tecla-e: All In One Device For People With Upper Body Mobility Impairments

photo of tecla-e resting on someone's hand.

There is no doubt that present day assistive technology is unstoppable when it comes to making lives easier and more comfortable for people with disabilities. Individual contributors and inventors have been able to unleash their creativity in various ways, and using technology that’s available now, they have been able to present solutions that have the ability to transform people’s lives in significant ways. Big companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple have also been working day and night to democratize accessibility & inclusion, and have been regularly educating everyone about the possibilities that are available through their products, solutions and technologies.

What this means is that we live in an ecosystem where if a solution doesn’t exist, there are possibilities of it being invented fairly quickly by individuals, not for profits, volunteer groups or big manufacturers. On the flip side, it also means that there is a plethora of assistive technology products and solutions that do one thing and one thing only. If a disabled person is in need of several of these solutions, is buying all of them the only option? Even if they buy multiple solutions, how do they manage and maintain them? Not to mention the cost associated with all these assistive technology solutions – some of these solutions are not necessarily affordable.

Is there a way to consolidate all these solutions into one? Can there be one device that lets you not only control multiple devices but also provides functionality on its own, thus eliminating the need to buy more (perhaps expensive) solutions?

What Is tecla-e?

This is where tecla-e comes into the picture. tecla-e is an assistive technology device that allows people with disabilities to control their smart devices and environment through wheelchair driving controls and ability switches. It is especially beneficial to people who cannot interact with devices independently, including but not limited to people with limited upper body mobility resulting from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, ALS, muscular dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, brain injury or stroke.

Users can control multiple devices to send and receive emails and text messages, browse the web, watch videos, launch and use apps, read books, turn on their TV, control their thermostat, turn the lights on or off, make (or hang up) phone calls, enter commands using Siri, and more – all with ONE tecla-e.



Multiple Device Control

When it comes to controlling smart devices around your house, Tecla-e can pair with up to eight Bluetooth devices and the user can switch between them by pressing and holding one of their switches. Compatible devices include:

• iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch (iOS devices with Switch Control)
• Mac Computers (macOS with Switch Control)
• Apple TV (tvOS with Switch Control)
• Android devices (with Switch Access, we recommend Pixel devices)
• Samsung devices (with Universal Switch)
• Windows computers (compatible scanning software required)

Control Smart Home Technology

Besides bluetooth devices, Tecla-e also allows its users to control their smart home devices like smart bulbs, smart thermostats and other such mainstream smart devices. Tecla-e integrates with Amazon Alexa, and also allows devices to be controlled using IFTTT and Logitech’s Harmony Hub.

Built In Button

Tecla-e itself is a light-touch button switch that requires about 200 grams of force to activate. This feature is ideal for users who aren’t familiar with switch access.

Note: Due to the device’s built-in radios, tecla-e should not be positioned near a user’s head. tecla recommends the Buddy Button or Wireless Head Array for head control. 

Remote Monitoring

tecla-e contains location, temperature, motion, and ambient light sensors. The information gathered by these sensors can be uploaded to the cloud and accessed through the Tecla apps for iOS and Android. The user can make this information available to family and caregiver who have also downloaded the app for extra peace of mind. 

Note: This feature is currently only available in North America.

App Enabled

Configure your device from the Tecla app for iOS and Android, use the app as a remote control and remotely monitor a tecla-e device. The new Tecla app for iOS and Android has three functions:

1. Hardware Set-Up: You can use the app to customize how your tecla-e works and upgrade the firmware as new features and bug fixes roll in.

2. Soft Remote: The app has a fully customizable remote, where you can create buttons for phone functions (direct dials, text messages, etc) or to control your Internet-enabled appliances with IFTTT, Harmony, and Alexa commands. Users with speech impairments can even create an Alexa text query button to access all of Alexa’s skills without using their voice.

3. Remote Monitoring: Sensor information from the tecla-e hardware  (GPS, motion, surrounding temperature and light conditions) can be accessed through the app. This information can be shared with family and caregivers that have downloaded the app and created an account.

An All-In-One Device

Tecla-e is an all-in-one device in the truest of sense. Not only is it an aid to daily living and a tool to enable users with endless possibilities like sending and receiving text messages and emails, answering phone calls and retrieving information from the internet, it also provides other important functions like reading e-books, writing and spelling through apps, using a calculator, studying information, and organizing daily activities through calendars, reminders, and more.

Not only does tecla-e provide the ability to provide daily and regular mundane tasks, it also enables users to do their work using computers. A quadraplegic user can easily use all the software (programming, video editing, for example) on Apple computers using tecla-e and bridge the gap to computer access.

As previously mentioned, tecla-e also lets a user easily control smart devices around them like bulbs and thermostat through the tecla-e app or a switch connected directly to it.

Besides helping perform essential tasks, tecla-e is also a recreational and leisure device because it allows its users to watch Netflix or YouTube as well as take photos, read books, participate actively in social media, and do all other fun things you can do with a smart device.

Cost Saving With tecla-e

a graphic showing how tecla e can perform functions of various different assistive technology solutions, thus saving cost.

tecla-e replaces the need for specific assistive technologies that can only perform a set amount of tasks.

For example:

  • Automatic book page-turner – $38
  • Hands-free wireless nurse intercom – $888• Accessible camera – $500
  • Switch-adapted MP3 player – $99
  • Switch-adapted TV remote – $145

At a cost of $499 USD, purchasing a tecla-e to use with your iPad rather than these five products alone will put an extra $1512 in your pocket. This does not include the numerous software such as word predictors, voice recognition, and speech generators that can cost thousands of dollars but can be found for free in the settings and app stores on iPhones and Android phones.

Customer Success Stories

After an accident in a circus troupe where Carolyn used to work, she lost all her senses from her shoulders down. Carolyn works in magazine publishing and editing and uses her tecla-e and smartphone to stay productive with access to writing emails and making appointments. Gaining access to mainstream technology allowed Carolyn to ditch her basic flip phone and expensive dedicated assistive devices.

Read more stories here to see how others are using tecla for different activities like gaming, developing apps, going on adventures, calling ride sharing services and many more.

Interested in learning more about tecla-e? Definitely check out their website that has amazing information on not just their product but also on how it works with various technologies; how to get funding for assistive technology in the US and Canada and a lot more related information. If you decide to get tecla-e, make sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel because they have a lot of tutorial videos that will help you get acclimatized to it quickly. 

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