Fat controller gets ready to roll

A wireless hand control device, for people with a disabilities such as cerebral palsy and arthritis, is being commercialised.

The ‘i-boll’ has been licensed in an agreement with Novita and will be a flagship technology for the not-for-profit organisation’s assistive technology division.

As well as being a disability services provider, Novita specialises in assistive technology equipment and devices designed to improve the life of people living with disability by helping them with their mobility, communication, education and daily living needs.

The collaboration between researchers, students and experts at Flinders University, the University of South Australia and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital involves biomedical engineers, industrial designers, neuroscientists, paediatricians, occupational therapist and rehabilitation experts.

Now in a final phase of consumer testing in association with a local aged care provider and industry partner Helping Hand, the i-boll is expected to be in production by early 2019.

Lead researcher, Flinders University lecturer and PhD candidate David Hobbs, says the i-boll has both practical and therapeutic applications.

“Easier to use than conventional controllers, the i-boll connects with most mobile smart devices that users are already familiar with, making it both highly accessible and cost effective,” Mr Hobbs says.

“Intuitive in design, the novel device can be customised to suit a users’ specific hand impairment such as arthritis, stroke or cerebral palsy.”

With an eye on compatibility and future mobile developments, the designers have built in technological longevity, so the i-boll will interface with future versions of mobile devices.

UniSA Ventures Dr Stephen Rodda, who is managing the i-boll device’s commercialisation, says the leading edge technology is a strong example of how local universities and industries can collaborate to benefit society and the local economy.

“This has been an extremely productive research and development collaboration and we look forward to Novita delivering the i-boll to market,” Dr Rodda says.

Novita’s General Manager of Assistive Technology, Mark Stewart, says the organisation is excited to bring the innovative i-boll to market globally.

“i-boll has the potential to really change millions of people’s lives worldwide and our goal is to continue to innovate to do just that,” Mr Stewart says.

The research team that developed the i-boll includes David Hobbs and director of the Medical Device Research Institute at Flinders University, Professor Karen Reynolds, product design expert Flinders Associate Professor Sandy Walker (previously UniSA), UniSA Associate Professor  Susan Hillier and Associate Professor Ray Russo (Women and Children’s Hospital).

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