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Case Study: Using Rapid Prototyping to Give an ALS Sufferer His Voice Back
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Capacitive Touch Sensor helps in the battle of ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease
Engineers at RapidKeypads.com recently used their rapid prototyping capability to give a man suffering with ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease) his voice back.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrigs Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the control of muscles throughout the body.
In our case, ALS had caused paralysis throughout his body leaving him with extremely limited use of the index finger on his right hand. The paralysis had also affected his vocal chords preventing audible speech. This meant that he could not call for help. Originally he was able to use his index finger to press a button to call for help. This soon became impossible as he lost strength in his finger as the ALS progressed.
One of the nurses responsible for taking care of this ALS patient contacted RapidKeypads.com to see if they could help. This nurse wanted a communication device capable of being triggered by simply touching a button, similar to that of a touch screen found in modern day smart phones and tablets.
RapidKeypads.com proposed a simple solution. They would make a custom medical device consisting of a touch sensitive button and driver electronics capable of producing high-fidelity audio. When the patient touches the button an audio sound would be produced. This sound would be interpreted as a call for help by the nurses taking care of him.
RapidKeypads.com used its ability to digitally print capacitive touch switches and its Fast Touch electronics to detect the presence of a finger and provide audio feedback. This system was nicely packaged inside of an off-the-shelf plastic enclosure.
After receiving this medical device the nurse had this to say:
"Dear Jameel Ahed:
It works exactly as you said it would. A trillion Thanks. The patient used it for almost an hour straight, smiling the entire time. Tears of JOY and HAPPINESS were present, not only on his face, but mine as well. You are a hero in our eyes. Great job! Know that you have given a dying man (who has given of himself his entire life) the greatest gift of all"¦ peace. He no longer has to struggle to be heard, or lay there worrying if it will work. I personally thank you from the bottom of my heart. Best wishes for your future accomplishments. May you and yours have a healthy and happy life."�
This project was completed within one day because RapidKeypads.com posses:
Experience in designing and manufacturing capacitive touch switch interfaces.
Rapid prototyping equipment that digitally prints film based capacitive touch circuit layers.
Special internal hardware and software configuration tools.
RapidKeypads.com has been designing and manufacturing capacitive touch interfaces. Their customer portfolio has been steadily increasing over the last three years. Their customers belong to a broad range of industries such as medical, aerospace, industrial, consumer, etc. RapidKeypads.com has pioneered the rapid prototyping of capacitive touch keypads. It possesses several pieces of specialty equipment, such as a high powered laser, digital printers, and other rapid prototyping tools. Using these tools RapidKeypads.com was able to develop the Fast Touch system which is what makes prototyping a "looks like, feels like"� capacitive touch system extremely fast. From the graphic overlay to the electronics, RapidKeypads.com can provide a complete functioning system.
The Fast Touch system consists of hardware and software configuration tools that help the engineers of RapidKeypads.com tune the buttons to different overlay fascias, choose between various noise rejection algorithms and also select the appropriate communication protocol, such as USB - HID, SPI, I2C, UART, etc. This optimises the performance of the touch interface, producing a successful capacitive touch system. This system has led Blue Sparq, Inc. to file over 13 patent applications.