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?
iSwitch box contents: iSwitch, USB lead and Operating Instructions
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.
iSwitch front panel showing two switch sockets and USB charging port
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
iSwitch underside showing Channel and Mode buttons and iOS commands
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.
Check this video as well: http://youtu.be/hqUyQRzWy6M from Communicate AT in Australia.
Accessing Music Playlists and the Camera
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.