Alma-based InvoTek Inc. recently received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The grant will fund the creation of a tool enabling children and adults with disabilities to enter texts up to 64% more efficiently than with existing tools. The gesture product is a collaboration of InvoTek and researchers at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb.
“Approximately 7 million children and adults in the United States have disabilities that hinder their ability to communicate,” Tom Jakobs, InvoTek president, said in a statement. “These disabilities include spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, ALS, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. This software gives them a simple way to enter text into a computer or speech generating device without requiring precise muscle movements.”
The gesture product, unlike current “swipe” technology, uses software that allows the user to enter partial words and then predicts and completes the word for them. People with disabilities who used early prototypes were highly satisfied and reported a significant reduction in effort needed to complete a writing task.
Founded in 1988, InvoTek specializes in applying technology to the needs of people with severe disabilities. InvoTek is a founding sponsor of Be Extraordinary, a non-profit organization that identifies people with severe disabilities who want to accomplish a life goal.