The client has been designing and supplying products to enhance the independence and quality of life for people with special needs for more than forty years. They are regarded as leaders in Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT), Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) and Environmental Control Systems (ECS) and are approved suppliers of Electronic Assistive Technology products and services to the NHS.
Most systems consist of three main elements: Inputs, Controllers and Accessories: The Accessories make the interface between the Controllers and the equipment to be controlled. The brief was to design a battery powered, single switch action, tactile, menu controller for use with several ECS products.
The enclosure had to be designed for non-slip use on a small table and be tolerant and safe with very heavy thumping and slapping type use. The first stage was to prepare a full specification for the product including a user methodology. This stage was followed by an extensive concept design stage where several different internal arrangements were explored with the client to achieve a compact design.
Once the build was agreed, drawings of the PCBs were issued to the clients own engineers for simultaneous development. The external enclosure was developed using 3D CAD and several concepts presented as 3D visualisations. The project required close collaboration with the client’s own engineers as they developed the PCBs and to resolve issues with component placing.
The final design was achieved using rapid prototypes and prototype PCB's prior to commissioning all tooling from 3D data and control drawings. Rapid prototypes were invaluable in resolving issues of ergonomics and robustness.