MiRemote with The Children with Disabilities Team (CWDT) at Falkirk Council
The Children with Disabilities Team (CWDT) in Falkirk council offer support, services and equipment to local children with physical, learning or complex disabilities and to their families.
Lesley Beath, an Occupational Therapist on the CWDT, had an idea for an accessible, easily navigable home automation app to give greater independence to children with disabilities. Therapy Box was asked to create an app which could be used by Children with disabilities to control their television and other devices around their homes. The CWDT wanted a native iOS app optimised for iPad in landscape orientation. Furthermore, the app needed to be able to control infrared devices, which Therapy Box accomplished by including software from Global cache to pair the app with iTach infrared control devices.
Settings within the MI remote app include multiple accessibility options such as switch & touch anywhere access, auditory support and touch accommodations. Users may also create audio buttons, so that non-verbal users can communicate messages without having to leave the app.
In order to make it feel more than just a tool to control their environment, Therapy Box added a storybook feature, wherein the app can be used to create interactive stories in which each page can contain an image, an audio recording, a text caption and an infrared action – which is used to control an infrared remote control toy. Each new page contains part of the story and pressing on the action button causes the remote control toy to carry out an action which relates to that story. The app has 6 factory stories (designed with limited colour to reduce stimulation), but users may add as many stories as they like. This app needed to be as intuitive as possible to operate, but couldn't be too slow in the hands of an experienced user. Therapy Box dealt with this by conducting user experience testing with potential users. Designs were provided to volunteers who were able to understand how the app would operate without much instruction. Two grid sizes were provided. A 4 cell layout, for users who wanted a clearer, less overwhelming view; and a 9 cell layout, for users who wanted maximum functionality available to them at any moment.
Winner of the 2016 Global Elevate Awards in the Media & Entertainment Category. The potential number of people that the innovation could impact and empower is difficult to fully estimate, but based on UNICEF's 2013 report, we estimate that worldwide, this could be up to 6 million children with a severe physical disability. The app not only allows children to control their TV and toys, but to be more independent and control simple devices in their home, such as lights, door openers and small electric appliances. These can all be adjusted using equipment available from regular hardware stores.