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Assistive Technology Transfer Update


Title: Supply-Push Program
Author: James A Leahy
Published: 1999
Publication: Assistive Technology Transfer Update: Vol. 1 Issue 2 (Fall)

In our last newsletter, I described the "Supply-Push Model" of Technology Transfer and how the Technology Transfer RERC employs that model in commercializing new inventions. In this edition of our newsletter, we will look at some of the avenues we have traveled in identifying new devices, the results of those travels, and our commercialization process.

One Promising Example

As part of our prospecting for new Assistive Technology devices, we contact other research organizations to ascertain the status of devices they are currently developing. One such organization, the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University, developed an Accessible Thermostat. The key features of the Accessible Thermostat are: large high-contrast buttons; icons and symbols to provide visual, cognitive and tactile cues; auditory feedback for both temperature and control status; and back-lighting for most control buttons to ensure that the controls are easily visible at night.

Through our commercialization process, we compiled a packet of information containing a detailed consumer evaluation of the product, a realistic and substantiated marketing/sales projection, and a technical evaluation of the device with suggested design changes. This packet is currently being reviewed by thermostat manufactures and their initial reaction to the product and information we presented is positive.

Other Sources Employed

Another area we mine for new assistive technology devices is invention/design competitions. The Tenth Annual Discover Awards was recently held and this year they added an Assistive Technology category. Our inquiries to the participants of the Discovery Awards are generating several very interesting submissions, some of which, I believe, we will probably be describing in future issues. Other competitions that have provided the T2RERC with devices are the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Annual Conference and Exposition and the B.F. Goodrich Awards.

In addition, through referrals from clinicians and researchers, we are currently evaluating technologies that provide consumers with dynamic seating in wheelchairs, and ease of calculating for persons with fine-finger-dexterity issues. Other devices we are reviewing range from prosthetic robotics to telecommunications to environmental control systems. The T2RERC is always scouting for new, unique and consumer-needed Assistive Technology.

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