Assistive devices help millions of paralyzed people access the Internet and communicate, but they don't come cheap. When Stephen Hawking speaks, he does so by using a $200,000 eye tracking computer, which was custom designed for him by Intel. Cheaper solutions exist, but they still cost thousands of dollars to purchase, and can take months to master.
Mehmet Nemo Turker, a Turkish electronics designer based in Shenzhen, never thought much about assistive devices, or their cost. Then his best friend, Caner Cem Marti, was paralyzed from the neck down in an accident. Looking to help his friend any way he could, Turker decided to leverage his gadget manufacturing contacts to create a new kind of head-controlled assistive device that was as affordable as a regular computer mouse, and just as easy for the disabled to use.
Now on Indiegogo, the GlassOuse—a portmanteau of "glasses" and "mouse"—sits on the nose like a pair of spectacles, along with a mouthpiece that almost looks like the mic on a gaming headset. When you hook up the GlassOuse to a computer, smartphone, or tablet via Bluetooth, it lets anyone wearing the headset control a mouse cursor just by tilting their head. To click, the user bites, tongues, or nudges the mouthpiece.
It's ridiculously simple—basically just a smartphone accelerometer you wear on your head. Which is why Turker couldn't believe there wasn't anything like the GlassOuse on the market when he set out to help his friend, at least not at an affordable price. "Compared to you or me, disabled people earn less on average but have to spend more money on everything, because the world isn't designed with them in mind," Turker says. "It's not fair," he argues, that people with disabilities have to spend "thousands of dollars just to control their computers," especially considering how important computers are to helping people with disabilities connect to the outside world.
That's why the GlassOuse costs just $149, or just a little more than Apple's Magic TrackPad 2; it's also why he's being extremely transparent about the cost breakdown of the device on the GlassOuse's Indiegogo page. "This is about something more meaningful to me than making money," Turker says. "It's about helping the 30 million disabled people who can't use their hands to control their computers, just like my friend."
You can preorder the GlassOuse here.