A small device that looks like a white river stone lets people communicate and speak in their own language of touch, sound, and colour. This invention is intended to help those who are blind, autistic, elderly, or otherwise find it difficult to communicate verbally. It’s a sensory I/O device that is less complex than Braille or sign language, and it can be worn like a piece of jewelry.
This is the Smartstone.
Creator Andreas Forsland says he was inspired when his mother got pneumonia. She was on a ventilator, thus she couldn’t speak and had very limited mobility. “She was really kind of locked in her mind,” he said, “and when you have a fairly serious illness, you really just need comfort and to know that somebody is there.”
Many people were reaching out to him for something like this to be developed. According to Forsland, the problem with modern technology is that it isn’t tailored to a person’s specific needs. The user interface was the biggest impediment, and so he intended to help create something where the language could be customised for each individual.
The Smartstone acts as a remote control for their app :prose, where a user can make touch and motion gestures to send messages to a friend or family’s phone in order to communicate. It’s never been easier to say “I love you”. In addition, the :connect app adds location trackers and push reminders for those family members who want to keep an eye on their loved one.
And most recently, Forsland has teamed up with Emotiv to develop a headset. Brainwaves can be recorded and give commands to the Smartstone and its app.
Although the indigogo campaign raised only $35 000 of its $50 000 goal, the response has been huge, and the production of these inventions have been long underway. There is demand in a device like the Smartstone, and it’s important for every person that needs it, especially today in a world where communication is everywhere.
Forsland concludes, “If you think about a room like a day program, where you have people who are sitting there just locked in… imagine a future where these people can have a laptop next to them, and they are literally saying things and having a conversation with someone else who can’t speak. That’s a future that I believe in.”