The goal of the Volksswitch design is to put its construction and assembly as close to the individual with disabilities as possible. That means making it available to therapists, ATPs, and family members. Pushing the construction of the switch as close as possible to the user ensures that the user will play a central role in its capabilities, look and feel with the result being a device that better fits the needs, desires and personality of its user.
The first implication of this design goal is that it must be low in cost and simple to assemble & maintain. Cost control begins with the choice of 3D printer and extends to the materials and parts that comprise the device. Simplicity of assembly and maintenance begin with assuming no special skills beyond “insert tab A into slot B” and “righty tighty / lefty loosey”. One should assume that the individual assembling the switch can use a 3D printer to produce parts and can order the necessary pre-built parts from a manufacturer but the extent of their electronic skills may not go much beyond cutting a wire to length and stripping off a specified length of insulation.
The second implication of this design goal that it must demonstrate inherent customizability and personalizability – again with the intent of providing the best fit possible for the individual who will be using it. Some elements of customization and personalization can be supported easily and proactively. These tend to fall into the “one from column A and one from column B” form. Further customization of fit requires direct tweaking of the design itself. Unfortunately, the most feasible format to supply designs to our audience (STL files) is static in its nature. Given the current state of 3D modeling and printing tools, supporting complete customization, requires access to a 3D modeling tool and therefore a level of technical ability, and possibly cost, than we wish were necessary.
Specifically, here are the detailed Volksswitch Design Requirements:
- supports being constructed by individuals closest to the individual with a disability (e.g., therapists, AT professionals, family members).
- can be 3D printed on a consumer accessible printer (i.e., printer cost <= $250)
- each instance can be printed and assembled for less than $20
- can be assembled and disassembled with no special skills or equipment (e.g., does not require soldering skills and equipment, components bolt/snap together)
- supports trouble shooting via simple part-replacement techniques
- supports personalization of aesthetics (e.g., user-specified colors and shapes, activation surface texture, and tactile activation travel characteristics)
- supports simple customization of features and functions:
- activation distance
- activation pressure
- support for externally powered elements (e.g., adapted toys)
- support for internally powered elements (e.g., visual /auditory / tactile feedback, wireless interfaces)
- support for common mounting and positioning solutions
- supports simple scaling of the components to meet a variety of applications and abilities
- supports simple re-implementation to better fit the needs and desires of the individual with a disability without the destruction of the component that is being replaced
- supports simple, end-user replacement of components with limited life (e.g., batteries)
- exhibits high reliability simply by avoiding known, low reliability configurations and components
- supports simple and low/no-cost design customization if the supplied designs fail to fit the needs and desires of the individual with a disability
- many aspects of the design should be reusable and extensible across new switch types, new form factors, and alternative technologies