Just to recap, the kit consisted of a Twilight Turtle Tunes, my iPad (could also have been an iPhone or iPod Touch) and an iSwitch. Together these formed the basis of the music and lights show with optional switch control.
The iSwitch was not essential but I used it to show how switch access on the iPad could be used. Judging by the surprise people showed when they pressed the iSwitch most seemed unaware of switch access on the iPad. (Take a look at this earlier blog about ‘Using and iSwitch with the iPad’)
Twilight Turtle Tunes is a colour changing nightlight that also includes a Bluetooth speaker. As it’s Bluetooth then the iPad connects to it through the ‘Settings > Bluetooth’ menu.
Once a connection has been made the Turtle will automatically reconnect next time you use it – provided Bluetooth is ‘on’ on the iPad.
Making the Bluetooth connection
Switch on the Twilight Turtle Tunes and activate the Bluetooth connection by pressing the on/off button twice – the turtle will start to flash.
Open the iPad Setting app and go to Bluetooth and switch ‘on’. That makes the iPad look for all Bluetooth devices within range.
Look for ‘Cloud B’ and touch to connect it to the iPad.
Music and Lights
Open the music app and select whatever you would like to hear. Touch on the ‘play’ and you will hear it through the Twilight Turtle Tunes rather than the iPad speaker. The other feature of the Turtle Tunes is the the colour changing light show it projects from blue through green and yellow. That’s how I set-up the music and lights show.
Although I used this set-up to play music don’t imagine that’s all it can play. Essentially what you now have is a connected speaker and I’ve used it to play nursery rhymes, recorded stories even the sound track or sound effects of games, apps etc.
There are also two apps from Cloud B – the company that makes the Twilight Turtle Tunes – that play relaxing soundscapes. (a free version or a paid-for one which costs £1.49 in the App Store.) Both apps include a timer so you can adjust how long the soundscape plays at bedtime.
Switch access with the iSwitch
The iSwitch can be connected to the iPad through the same Bluetooth menu and then set to send the ‘Play/Pause’ command to the iPad.
The iSwitch gives users switch access to Apple’s iOS on the iPad (all models) iPhone (3GS onwards) and iPod Touch (3rd generation onwards). It’s produced by Pretorian Technologies Ltd and it’s their newest switch access kit for iOS. It sits alongside the APPlicator, Smoothie switches and their other assistive technology kit for iOS and PC access.
What’s in the box?
The iSwitch – mines red but they also come in blue, green and yellow.
A USB charging lead.
Set-up and Operating instructions.
Let’s get going. The first thing to do is charge the iSwitch. The instruction leaflet tells you how; but simply, connect the small USB plug into the socket on the front of the iSwitch and then the larger plug into a USB socket on your computer. Turn the iSwitch over and you should see a small green light shining just above the red box; that tells you it’s charging. A full charge will likely take up to 2 hours. When it’s charged the green light goes out.
Whilst the iSwitch is charging it’s a good idea to read the instructions.
The first thing to notice about the iSwitch is that it has an integrated big button (75 mm diameter) switch. And, it also has the possibility to connect two more external switches through the two sockets on the front panel – see picture.
Looking left to right there’s the first external switch socket, the small USB charging socket and the second switch socket. All three switches can be set to do any of 24 commands that iOS understands. The instruction leaflet lists all of the iOS commands and for convenience the same list is on the bottom of the iSwitch as well as the buttons used to set it up.
iSwitch Control Panel
Setting up the iSwitch with an iOS command is really simple. This is what the ‘control panel’ on the base of the iSwitch looks like – see picture on the left.
Notice the two red push-buttons: the one on the left selects the ‘channel’ i.e. external switch 1, the integrated switch or external switch 2. The red button on the right sets the ‘mode’. (note: I called this the iOS command earlier.) Above are the led windows for external switch 1 or 2.
The battery charging light is at the top in the middle.
In-between the two red buttons is the red window where you’ll see the ‘mode’ you’ve set the iSwitch to send when the integrated switch or either of the two external switches are pressed.
All of the ‘mode’ commands are listed from ‘0 – zero’ to ‘U’ with an outline of what the mode command does.
On the left you can see a label that reads ‘Pretorian-59 IE32’ This is the device number the iPad sees in the Bluetooth menu. Each iSwitch has a different number along the lines of ‘Pretorian 59 ****.
Making a Bluetooth Connection
Go to the Bluetooth menu on your iPad (Settings then Bluetooth). Make sure Bluetooth is turned on; if not slide the iOS slider to the right.
Turn on the iSwitch by pressing either ‘channel or ’mode’ switch once.
After a few seconds the iSwitch should appear as a ‘discoverable’ device listed as something like ‘Pretorian-59 ABCD. Tap on the name and the pairing process will begin.
The iSwitch is ready to use when you see ‘Connected’ in the Bluetooth device list.
Which iOS Command?
Here I’m going to assume your planning to use the iSwitch with an app on the iPad. The first thing you will need to know is which iOS command(s) the app is expecting to receive. Unfortunately there’s not an international standard covering which iOS command is used to ‘scan’ or ‘select’ actions within apps. Generally, you’ll need to check each app before using it.
But here’s a general rule-of-thumb that will work most of the time:
For European apps: use ‘Space’ (mode 5) to scan within an app and ‘Enter’ (mode 6) to select an action in the app.
For North American apps: use ‘~1’ (mode 7) to scan within an app and ‘~3’ (Mode 8) to select an action in the app.
Setting the iOS command
Press the ‘Channel’ button to select external switch 1, 2 or the integrated switch.
Press the ‘Mode’ button to select the iOS command you need. For example, setting ‘Enter’ would mean you need to press the mode button until number ‘6’ appears in the red window.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 to set up the other switches if being used.
These steps are described in more detail in the Operating Instructions but essentially it comes down to selecting first the ‘channel’ and then assigning it an iOS command using the ‘mode’ button. Very simple and quick to set or re-set if needed.
The iSwitch can also be set to play music playlists and take pictures using the camera. The commands needed to control the music player are:
To play a music playlist
Mode ‘E’ for play / pause
Mode ‘F’ to skip a track forward
Mode ‘G’ to skip a track backwards
Mode ‘H’ to increase the volume
Mode ‘J’ to decrease the volume
As a minimum you’ll need mode ‘E’ on one of the switches. Setting up a second and third switch gives you more options.
To take pictures or shoot video
Mode ‘H’ normally used to increase music volume it also works as the shutter control in the camera app.
The iSwitch is a great iOS access device for switch control of apps. It’s simple to set-up and easy to use. I like the idea of the integrated switch and being able to connect two additional switches (if you need up to four switches then think about the APPlicator.) Recommended.
Over the weekend I received an email from a software company, IMG, I’d not heard of in quite some time. Their email was about an updated version of Joystick-To-Mouse software we used in the Dream-Mouse product a few years ago. This is what the email said about it:
Run Windows from Any Joystick, Gamepad, Steering Wheel, Foot Pedal, or other Gaming Device. This software has been a big hit with Gamers and Joystick users for over 15 years! If you love to play games with your Joystick or Gamepad, why not run your computer with it? Now available for Windows 8 & 7 (32 & 64 bit), XP & 2000.
Who might find it useful? In my opinion any assistive technology user who routinely uses a PC should take a look at it because it lets the user configure a joystick (or other gaming console device) to act like a mouse. (that’s why they call it Joystick-To-Mouse) It’s worth downloading the free, fully working, demo software to give it a go. I thought it was good when we used it. The reason we stopped was because, at the time, it hadn’t been updated to Windows 7 and W7 was becoming the new standard installed on PCs.
They also announced a Windows 8 version of ‘The Magnifier’.
The First Truly Affordable, Full Screen Software Magnifier, has just passed its 10th year providing low vision computer users with a powerful, easy to use, and inexpensive solution to their computer screen magnification needs. Now available for Windows 8 & 7 (32 & 64 bit), XP & 2000.
I’ve not used this particular software before but again, as there is a free demo download, what have you to loose? Take a look: this is the link to IMG: http://www.imgpresents.com/index.htm