TORONTO – People with upper-body mobility impairments now have a way to access smart devices and other technology—including connected healthcare devices—through Tecla-e.
Designed by Komodo OpenLab, Tecla-e provides wireless connectivity for up to eight devices. Users can operate the device through standard accessibility tools like sip and puff controllers, buttons and switches on a wheelchair.
Kaela Malozewski, communications coordinator for Komodo OpenLab, says Tecla-e already has approximately 3,000 users in 23 countries. She said the impact on their lives has been immediate and transformative.
“For our users, just being able to participate and reintegrate with the world through technology has been huge,” she said. “They can get excited about the newest iPhone or tablet because now they can use it. There is no more ‘otherness.’”
The Tecla-e is an updated version of the original Tecla device, which could connect with just one device.
The new cloud-connected iteration features: a simple remote interface for users who are unfamiliar with technology or who have cognitive issues; upgradable firmware; and Bluetooth-enabled connectivity to smartphones, tablets, computers and smart home devices. Caregivers and family members can also monitor users with sensors built into the device that record and track room temperature, movement and location.
Komodo OpenLab is a a for-profit company certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.
Headquartered in Canada, the company has a partnership with phone company Bell Canada to offer users there a rebate for Tecla-e. Hospitals and rehab centers in Canada are also able to use government grants to purchase the Tecla-e or borrow it from government agencies.
In the U.S., coverage is more complex and the device is viewed as more of a consumer electronics device than a medical one, said Malozewski.