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Assistive Technology Transfer Update

 

Title: Strategic goal 2: Supply-Push Project
Author: James A Leahy
Published: 2000
Publication: Assistive Technology Transfer Update: Vol. 2 Issue 1 (Spring) Annual Report, 1998-1999

Abstract

The Supply-Push Project is the second goal of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology Transfer (T2RERC). This project seeks inventors and inventions to aid in the advancement of assistive technology products on the market. One step in the process that enables an invention to make it to a manufacturer is a submission package completed by the inventors themselves. This and other important steps are talked about in this article along with examples of inventions developed under this project.

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Full Text

Objective:

Improve the variety, quality and choice of products available in the marketplace through a Supply Push model of technology transfer. Project Leader - James Leahy

Process: The Supply Push project is different from the Demand Pull Project because it starts with inventions and prototype devices, rather than needs for technologies, then searches for manufacturers willing to license them to commercialize new assistive technology devices. The Supply Push program has four major steps:

  1. Seek potential products from qualified sources;
  2. Conduct technical, market and consumer evaluations to assess potential;
  3. Develop an attractive commercialization package and present to selected companies;
  4. Negotiate license and support commercialization activities.

For additional information on these steps, please see: http://t2rerc.buffalo.edu/development/supplypush/

Progress:

To facilitate and enhance the efforts of transferring technologies to manufacturers in a timely and effective manner, we comprehensively reviewed our prior processes and paperwork, and made revisions such as:

  • Revised the inventor's submission package in order to facilitate the time staff needs to review a technology and speed up the pre-screening process for acceptance into the supply push program.
  • Established protocols for generation of human factors for the recruitment of end users, prescribers, and care providers for our consumer evaluations and focus groups. This eliminated problems translating technical requirements into human factors.
  • Updated our Commercialization package by establishing a new format, designing a clear and concise cover letter and appendix, thereby eliminating any redundancy in our reports for the manufacturer.
  • Initiated a manufacturers' survey sent to all who receiving our commercialization packages, to ensure we obtain their impressions and feedback for continuous quality improvement.

During this past year our Supply Push team has received over 75 contacts from inventors and provided in-depth technical assistance to 32 of those contacts. We forwarded 21 invention submission packages to inventors, and received 13 completed packages returned from inventors.

The T2RERC's Supply Push team is currently reviewing, evaluating, or acting as agent for the for the following devices and products:

  • A device to re-activate telephone's left off the hook.
  • An anti-rollback device for manual wheelchairs from the BF Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Competition.
  • An epileptic seizure alert system from a federal laboratory.
  • A tendon-activated pneumatic hand prostheses, from a Discover Awards finalist.
  • A newly patented flexible seating system.
  • An omni-directional wheelchair from the USPTO Conference and Exposition.
  • An accessible thermostat from the RERC on Universal Design.
  • An advanced walker. An extended efficiency wheelchair motor.
  • An overlay and expanded keyboard for Texas Instruments I 83 scientific calculator.

The following devices are in the license negotiation stage with companies:

  • MEDVOX - The MEDVOX is an Electronic Prescription Label Device that has been designed to provide the same information as the printed label but through auditory feedback. The MEDVOX device can easily be programmed and reprogrammed by a care provider or pharmacist. The MEDVOX can be attached to a variety of products including pill bottles, vitamin containers and other health care product containers. The MEDVOX is beneficial for persons with low vision, the blind or anyone who is unable to read a label but able to press a button on the label and listen. It is estimated that there are over 3 million individuals in the United States who have limited sight or visual disorders.
  • Wheelchair Backpack Carrier - The swing around wheelchair backpack system allows individuals to take advantage of the large storage capacity of a rear mounted, backpack-style bag, while providing the added convenience of side access. The bag can be easily accessed when needed, then swung back into position and out of the way. The primary purpose is convenience; the result is mobility and heightened independence for anyone who uses a wheelchair. The swing around wheelchair backpack system product line includes: 1) a line of interchangeable bags, from a professional attache style case, to a sports bag, to a child's diaper bag, 2) a simple, universal wheelchair mount with left or right hand configuration, and 3) a mechanical remote actuated bag mount. The low profile mount remains on the wheelchair even when the bag is removed, and does not interfere with normal wheelchair operation.
  • Repetitive Reading CD Rom (Assistive Reading System) - The ASSISTIVE READING SYSTEM is an electronic auditory playback system designed by a special education teacher to assist children in learning to read. Children, who have learning disabilities or physical impairments that cause reading deficiencies, have difficulty grasping written and verbal communication needed to learn to read. The system adapts to meet the reading level of each child by allowing them control over the exercise with the push of a button. It uses an audio memory chip that tells a story one line at a time while the user reads along on an accompanying story sheet. It can repeat lines as many times as desired in any combination, by pushing a button at the beginning of that line of text. A light at the beginning of each line indicates which line is being read. The ASSISTIVE READING SYSTEM can assist any child or adult with a reading deficiency in learning to read. It can also be used to assist children with no impairment in learning to read or to enhance the enjoyment of recreational reading.

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