11 May 2012 Gadget Show 2012 Review
I went to the Gadget Show for the first time this year and, while others who had been before said that there wasn’t as much there this year as in previous years, I found there was more than enough to fill up my time and quite a few gadgets to get my imagination firing and fingers itching to give them a try.
I went with the idea of ‘gadget of today; independent living aid of tomorrow’ as that is usually how things work out and I wanted a glimpse of the future for disabled people. MyndPlay and the NeuroSky headset definitely fit into this category. This is a multimedia player and platform that, with the use of EEG BrainWave technology, allows the user to interface with games, movies or, well, whatever else canny developers can devise for it, using only the mind. They have already begun researching with disabled children living with ‘locked-in syndrome’ and, in their own opinion, have had some success. The uses this could be put to by people with severe physical impairments is, excuse the pun, mind-blowing.
Imagine this EEG technology in conjunction with home environment control technology, like that of Lightwave RF, a company based in Birmingham. Their environmental control system currently uses smartphones, like iphones, ipads, Blackberrys’ or android phones and tablets, to control the home environment like a Possum or Steeper unit does now. However, this technology goes further as it can also use internet wireless technology to allow the user to control their home environment while they are out, for instance, putting the central heating on to warm the house before they got home or closing the curtains when it got dark making it appear there was someone at home and deterring would-be burglars.
There are also the robot vacuum cleaners by Autobotics for which I can envision applications with EEG technology. After talking with the developer of Autobotics, it turns out that there are additional ideas in development for a robot cleaning aid that could help with a lot more than just the hoovering.... Here comes the future!
A great invention, and something there is a definite need for in my house anyway, is CatGenie’s Self-Flushing, Self-Washing Cat Litter Box and a personal favourite were the Parax paper products made from stone and plastic (yes really!), a dream to write on though not particularly disability-related – I just liked it. As I liked Petron’s crossbow ranges. These come in a children’s toy range called Fun and an adult leisure range called Stealth, but both were so easy to use even with some weakness in my hand and arm muscles, much easier than other archery bows I have tried in the past. I loved them and even came close to hitting the bulls-eye after a few minutes practice!
There were other interesting items too like the simple ‘myBunjee’ which reduces the risk of dropping your mobile by clipping it to your belt or bag via an extendable spiral cord, as well as more obvious impairment-focused hardware like Visualeyes’ visual aid readers, that included a prototype reader to help those with dyslexia, and The Keyboard Company’s ‘big keys’ and ‘yellow keys’ keyboards also for the visually impaired.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed my day at the Gadget Show and felt really inspired by the possibilities I saw for the present as well as the future. Technology moves so fast that I truly believe that it won’t be long before I get my own, long-awaited, robot PA!