The following is a blog written by Trailblazer Zishan Kinoo about a recent visit to Sensory Guru, an assistive technology company.
As you arrive at Hodore Farm where Sensory Guru is based, you are struck by the beauty of the open space and greenery of East Sussex. We were met by team members and were briefed on the background of their revolutionary products that are available.
The Magic Mirror uses a camera system which reacts to the movements of the users. As we entered the room the Magic Mirror was switched on and the image of everybody ‘magically’ appeared on a blank wall. When the image of me came up, I was a little bit shocked, as I wasn’t prepared to see a life size version of myself! We were then shown the capabilities of what this piece technology can do. It was my favourite by far because you can play games; listen to music while interacting with lighting and special effects. You can even open doors, and turn on lights with small gestures. Although to some this may seem like small details, for someone with a disability this would aid them to live a better quality of life.
Eye Gaze is a piece of equipment which is connected to your computer, laptop or tablet through a USB. Eye Gaze allows the user to access the features of the technologies mentioned above through the user’s eye movements. The way in which Eye Gaze was set up for me was through a tablet on a stand which was measured accurately to meet my requirements in terms of height and distance from my eyes. We started with the configuration of my eye angles so Eye Gaze could allow me to use it to its best capacity. First of all I started with a simple match the picture game, where I began to get used to the Eye Gaze software. My favourite was the archery game as I had to hit targets as they popped up and this measured my response and accuracy. Once I was used to the games I was then introduced to the fact that Eye Gaze allowed me to use all the features of the tablet through my eyes. This was a shock as I thought you could only play games with it! This would benefit anyone with a disability which affects their hand and arm muscles because in the past individuals with disabilities were unable to use a computer or tablet but now that is all possible through Eye Gaze.
The Magic Carpet is another interactive system that is projected onto a special mat on the floor. While at Sensory Guru the Magic Carpet allowed me to participate via my wheelchair. One of the features, a pond effect, allowed users to interact with the water, fish, and flowers, like an interactive screen saver, as well as many games, music and other tools. This was my favourite effect as it had a relaxing sound and image. In my opinion this would be good for an office environment as it would create a peaceful environment to work in, consequently creating a much friendlier environment.
At the end of the day I did an interview for both the Muscular Dystrophy campaign and Sensory Guru to explain how it would help benefit me and others with similar conditions. For me, the most useful thing was the Eye Gaze technology. With my condition, my hands and arms are relatively weak, so Eye Gaze can enable me to continue to use my equipment such as my laptop, tablet, etc, even when my arms get tired.