16 YO Inventor Used 3D Printing to Create a Device to Assist People With Speech Impairments
Septrmber 17, 2014
TALK is an AAC – augmentative and alternative communication – device that translates air blown from a users nose and sends it to a box to be turned into speech. It was created by 16 year old Arsh Shah Dilbagi to offer an affordable alternative to bulky and expensive AAC devices.
The device was created to help people who suffer from LIS, ALS, or other conditions that can completely paralyze those afflicted with them. Upon discovering that traditional AAC devices can cost several thousands of dollars and remain frustratingly slow to use, Arsh decided to create a device that was cheaper, faster and more affordable.
TALK works when the user creates two exhales through the nose, distinguished by intensity and duration, that it converts into electrical signals that can be translated from morse code into a computer generated voice. Users can “type” out entire words or sentences, or they can enter shortcuts that would trigger pre-selected phrases. TALK converts the morse code into English, and the user can choose between nine different voices. Here is a video explaining how TALK works:
Arsh entered his invention into the Google Science Fair where he took home the Voters Choice Award. Not only was his invention impressive on its own, but the rate at which it produces text and commands combined with the inexpensive price tag of about $80 have been hailed as significant breakthroughs. If TALK goes into production, it will be the least expensive AAC device available on the market today.
Developing the prototype required almost three months of research and another seven months of design, testing and assembly. In order to make sure TALK was small and portable, Arsh 3D printed custom circuit panels and the device’s enclosure using a Prusa i3. He intends on 3D printing the final industrial grade enclosure on a Stratasys uPrint SE Plus.
Arsh tested his device on a patient from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease while being supervised by the head of neurology. The patient was able to produce the two distinct signals using his breath, allowing them to operate TALK without any difficulties.
As the only representative of Asia in this year’s event, Arsh is enjoying his win at the Google Science Fair. But he isn’t done with TALK yet. He is continuing to work on the device, and is currently looking into ways to add auto-predictions to make translating even faster. He also wants to develop a way to connect the device to Google Glass and other types of modern technology, further enhancing the quality of life for people suffering from these afflictions.