Archive for the ‘Adaptive Design’ Category

Volunteer Projects

August 9th, 2012

Here are some projects that volunteers are currently working on at the EDGE Lab:

Lab volunteer Charlie decided to make a set of drums out of tall tubes of cardboard. He has tubes of different sizes and is also trying out different materials for the skin. In the picture below he used tape.












Any changes he makes to the tubes alters the sound it will make. Here he is adding holes to the side.

















Instead of using drumsticks, he decided to use something different. Here is a picture below:



















When the string is pulled the lever will hit the drum. He attached a weight at the end of the string so the lever can easily bounce back.












He eventually wants to create multiple tubes and levers of different sizes to create a range of sounds.


Yuka has just completed a small table. The first picture shows her completed table but she soon realized that it can be tipped over easily. The legs that were on the table below did not provide enough support.

table with no base












She added a base to add extra support.










She is currently working on making a holder for the many rockers we have.












The piece in the picture below will support one rocker when it is on the shelf.










Here are a few of the support shelves attached to the base.











…almost finished…








Now all she needs to do is add some dowels for extra support.

Here it is being tested












Talking Sleeve

August 7th, 2012

One of the latest projects at the EDGE Lab is the Talking Sleeve. This post will document past projects that have led up to the making of the sleeve.

It all started with this:









The blue cardboard computer stand shown above was originally created as an experiment. The EDGE Lab wanted to see what would happen when a computer that was accessible at child level was placed in a childcare setting. This computer stand was designed in a way that more than one child could access the computer at the same time. They weren’t sure what impact this would have once it was in the classroom.

An educator in the classroom noticed a high level of engagement from a student with special needs. This observation sparked the idea of a custom keyboard made specifically for this child, but it can be used for anyone that has difficulty with their fine motor skills.

The first adapted keyboard was made out of cardboard and custom buttons that are larger in size than a traditional keyboard. The keys on this first keyboard were close together. This made it difficult for the child to accurately press the keys she wanted.

Below is the second version of the keyboard with the keys spaced out more.








The different cardboard pieces would be laid out and fit around where the child is sitting.  This design also had some problems and needed to be reworked. Even though the keys were spaced out enough, the vast size of this adapted keyboard made it difficult to reach around to all the keys.

Here is one part of the keyboard hooked up to a laptop.










From this, an idea emerged that would change the use of single letters to spell out words into using whole words when a button or key was pressed. The staff at the childcare centre discussed the child’s interest in a soft toy that said words when it was squeezed. With this information, the EDGE Lab  decided to go into a slightly different direction and make soft buttons made of fabric. When the buttons are squeezed it would say its assigned word and display the word on a small screen.









Here is a video of lab technician, Rubina making the buttons:

This was a big leap that went from an adapted keyboard to a basic communicative device.

The EDGE Lab is currently working on the talking sleeve. This project builds on the fabric button idea. The goal is to create a wearable sweater that allows the person wearing it to press on different patches on the sleeve that would voice and display different words.

The sleeve itself has gone through it’s own set of stages. The picture below shows patches that were hand sewn with conductive thread which connects to snap buttons. The buttons then snap onto the circuit board.










Some tweaks have been made to this. The EDGE Lab has found a way to sew the conductive thread on with a sewing machine. Instead of snap buttons, small magnets are sewn in to the end of the sleeve to attach to the circuit board. This allows for an easier disconnection when it is time to wash the garment.

Here is a short video:

This video is only of the circuit board. The points that are touched mimics what would happen when the patches are pressed on the sleeve. This version has more words than the previous one, which only had 4 words. The circuit board has been programmed to page up or down to access more words. The voice can also be programmed to the voice of your choice.

Here is a picture of the part that connects the sleeve to the circuit board using small magnets instead of snap buttons.











Fairchild Television Segment

August 2nd, 2012

EDGE Lab featured on Fairchild Television.


How to make soft circuit buttons, video

July 30th, 2012

Here’s a tutorial video on how to make fabric buttons that conduct electricity.

View on YouTube.

Margaret Atwood visits the EDGE Lab

July 17th, 2012

Hinged laser cut box made from MDF


Margaret Atwood visited the EDGE Lab today accompanied by Matthew Gibson, President of Syngrafii and Boris Koechlin, CEO of Syngrafii. More pictures of her visit to the DMZ, including some of the lab at the bottom of the page.

Corner chair

Talking sleeve

































The EDGE Lab, as Elizabeth Sees it

July 12th, 2012

This summer, our latest intern Elizabeth Wilfred, will be blogging about her experiences at the EDGE Lab. She is a 3rd year student in the School of Early Childhood Studies. Elizabeth’s posts will provide a unique perspective and should be of special interest to students considering placements or potential volunteers.

To see all her posts, just click on the Interns category on the home page and look for her name.


Working with Cardboard for the First Time

July 12th, 2012

After watching an instructional video on how to make the EDGE Lab’s famous rocker I decided to start the process on my first day. Here is a link to the two videos that break the steps down:

On cutting
On gluing

There are many stages in making a rocker, which can take one or two days to complete because after the gluing steps the cardboard needs several hours to dry completely before moving on.










Above is the template I used and the first piece I cut.  It was harder than I thought it would be to use a utility knife to cut the cardboard in a straight line. I later learned that using a ruler to guide the knife helps to make straighter lines. I had to cut 4 of these out and then glue them together. This will be used to make the seat of the rocker.









I then had to cut smaller pieces for the legs and glue them the same way. These glued pieces are then placed under something heavy so they can dry flat. I placed mine under an old computer tower.









The next morning I was excited to retrieve my work from the day before. The two pieces for the legs were completely dried and much strong. The base however was dented from the weight of the computer tower and it was not completely dry. After consulting with Rubina, the lab technician, we came to the conclusion that not all cardboard is made alike. The cardboard that I used for the seat was a bit softer than the cardboard I used for the legs. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t continue with the making of the EDGE Lab Rocker. I will have to start a new base with different cardboard another day.



Congratulations Professor Alison Gaston

July 5th, 2012

EDGE Lab Alumnus Alison Gaston (MA Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University 2011) has just been appointed full time professor in ECE at Sheridan College | Institute for Advanced Learning and Technology starting in August. When she’s gotten comfortable with her new digs we hope she will be help us to build new connections with Sheridan, collaborating on both Play and Adaptive Design research projects.




Raspberry Pi Case

July 4th, 2012

A laser cut box to house the Raspberry Pi. The box is held together with paper clips so it can be opened easily and has holes cut into the base for venting.


































New projects in the @EDGElab, audio synth and assistive walking device

June 28th, 2012