I asked my friend Steve, when he injured his spine, what would make his life easier. He didn’t have to think about it. The biggest thing he missed was the simple act of reading a book. It gives me great pleasure to make his recovery more bearable in this small way.
The first solution was a simple blue button that send the ASCII code for “Right Arrow” over bluetooth. We called the project “Page Down”. He was able to press the button with his forearm and was finally able to read books on his Kindle. YAY! But occasionally the button would be held too long and cause multiple pages to turn. With no back arrow, this was a major nuisance.
We also got Steve an Amazon Echo that he got to test the same day as “Page Down”. The Echo responded well to Steve’s voice commands which allowed him to tune in pod-casts, and listen to music and radio. That gave me the idea for a voice actived page turner. Thus Voice Page Down (VPD) was born.
We live in a magical time. VPD would have been a huge undertaking 10 or even 5 years ago. Today, it is practially a drag and a drop. The bulk of VPD is an Arduino Shield stack: AlaMode for the micro-controller, EasyVR for the voice recognition, Power Boost Shield for power management, and finally the Bluefruit EZ-key for the Bluetooth communication. The whole project took a week of spare time including the enclosure. Now it is ready to share.
If you are still reading, you might be interested to pick up on some more details. The enclosure is assembled with the WyoLum Lada system. Lada combines 3D printed corners with laser cut faces to make custom enclosures. An early Lada design included a PCB notch out to hold a PCB like a stand-off. Since most PCB’s have mounting points, this turned out not to be all that useful. But in this case, it was just what the doctor ordered. The AlaMode usually relies on a host raspberry pi for support and only has a single mount point. The specialized Lada corners worked perfectly, supporting three of the four PCB corners. Components on the fourth corner disallowed any Lada, so we just left it off.
The other cool thing is the custom speaker mount. Amazingly, the speaker did not come with any mounting system. A tiny OpenScad script added a ring to 4 Lada corners and walla *
Panel mounted buttons and switches would be a nice upgrade. But perfect is the enemy of good enough, so I just provided access with panel cut outs for the Bluefruit pariing button, power switch, reset, and usb charging port.
All design files and code are available on github.