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Empowering Technologies
 
Product News : 15/05/2013
Portset solutions set wheelchair users free - wireless connection for devices

The Portset USB to Bluetooth converter which enables existing SEN Human Interface USB devices to become wireless, and the Portset Bluetooth 4 Switch device which takes up to four standard SEN switch inputs but without the need for a USB connection.

The Portset press release says

"Students and trainees who use wheelchairs face significantly more difficulties than their able-bodied colleagues when using computer equipment and technological devices.
They need to connect their own special educational need (SEN) devices to the fixed equipment in the classroom, office or workshop. In most cases they need a helper to carry out this task. Once connected by the necessary wires they are then effectively ‘tethered’ to the equipment and again need help to get un-tethered to move within the room.

Portset introduces two interface devices to remove the tether! The Portset USB to Bluetooth converter which enables existing SEN Human Interface USB devices to become wireless, and the Portset Bluetooth 4 Switch device which takes up to four standard SEN switch inputs but without the need for a USB connection.This now means that users own special needs equipment, switches, keyboard, joystick or a mouse is connected to the interface device which communicates via short-range Bluetooth radio signals to a special coded transceiver device connected to the fixed equipment. Each interface unit contains security ‘pairing’ codes which will only pair with the matching transceiver device, automatically identifying each student and connecting them in and out of the fixed computing system as they come and go. The wheelchair user can now move anywhere within the classroom or workshop, completely unhindered by connecting wires.

The Portset interface devices have been designed to communicate with the most common types of Special Needs Human Interface Devices and incorporates internal Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The equipment has already been trialled at a number of UK locations where its usefulness has been proven.

Below is some feedback from users at the following colleges, Treloars, National Star & Chailey Heritage:
“The devices work very well and are making a difference to the student to use the keyboard/mouse devices. Both the Portset SEN Switch and USB Bluetooth devices greatly improve our students mobility and physical accessibility in the class room as these remove the hazards and limitations imposed by physical wires. "

“The switch devices have worked well with Grid2 on the department assessment devices, we are working with our Speech and Language Therapists for longer term trial.”

“Generally people are enthusiastic about the concept. Teachers generally welcomed the idea of not having wires directly from switches to a computer.

“Students can move freely to work in groups or view the tutor or whiteboard. The user can return to their PC and continue using the device without the need for additional support to re-attach therefore increasing the users independence.”

The products have been developed with funding from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the UK Technology Strategy Board through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition.

The project has been managed and supported by JISC TechDis."
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