Thursday, August 25, 2011

Electrical engineer creates “Frankenkindle” for sister with cerebral palsy

From Engadget:

Back in March, an electrical engineer named Glenn decided to embark on a project to help his sister. Glenn’s sister has Cerebral Palsy which is a physical disability that most commonly affects motor control.

This makes it rather difficult to use modern electronics due to their tiny buttons and sensitive touch interfaces. So, the kind brother set about modifying a Kindle to transform it into something that his sister could easily use.

Glenn, who has a degree in electrical engineering, said that engineering students usually choose their major for one overarching reason: to improve the quality of life on this planet. He also said he loves building things, so he decided to create what he calls the “Frankenkindle.”

He posted the finished product on Sunday, along with the YouTube video below that explains the technical parts of the device. The Frankenkindle has a 5-way keypad (up, down, left, right, and center), as well as a “Home” button.

Glenn took the controls from an e-reader for kids called the V.Reader. During a trip to Best Buy, Glenn’s sister found the buttons were easy to use; however, it only displayed children’s books.

Glenn bought the V.Reader and referred to it as his “Organ Donor.” Each silicone button has two wires attached, which he then routed into the Kindle’s interface board.

Though it’s still a prototype at this point, the Frankenkindle is rather impressive. The prototype was designed for what Glenn thinks his sister will need, but he’ll do some revisions once she tests it out.

As of now, the only thing that the Kindle needs is a permanent mount and a little more wire organization. Though it doesn’t look as pretty as a normal Kindle, Glenn says it doesn’t have to be. As long as it’s functional, that’s all that matters.