Testing the HandShake system at Beaumont College, Lancaster. An LED was used to indicate when a trigger was received.


The challenge

Some people with e.g. cerebral palsy are unable to use physical controllers such as buttons and joysticks to interact with communication software are still able to make intentional hand movements.


The solution

HandShake uses a pair of BBC Micro:bits to enable triggers to be sent to switchable communication software to enable speech to be composed. The components are all off the shelf. The only bit of self-assembly is in constructing a wrist holder for the BBC Micro:bit using a £5 smarphone arm holder. One Micro:bit is worn on the wrist and a second is connected to a laptop or communications device. When a gesture is made, the motion is detected by the Micro:bit on the wrist. This Micro: bit uses its radio to signal the Micro:bit connected to the laptop. This Micro:bit then triggers an event on the laptop through the USB cable connected to the laptop. The trigger can also be used as a switch to control communications software, such as Smartbox’s Grid software.

A full explanation of the device with a link to detailed instructions and all of the project code needed to make it run along with a video of the system being tested at Beaumont can be found on the project webpage can be found here:

Instructions on how to replicate the system along with the necessary software can be found here.

You need the hand_gesture project. It may be easier to download all of the repository from GitHub as a single zip file and then delete the other projects.

Full instructions on how to make the wrist holder for the BBC Micro:bit can be found here:

The benefit

This project enables people who are able to make a voluntary movement but who are unable to interact with switches and joysticks to interact with switchable software to e.g. create speech using AAC.

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