Rally Racer review

Last December Kara Melissa (blogs at http://karamelissa.com) purchased the Rally Racer switch adapted car for her Son, Seb.

It was his main Christmas present so very important that it worked for him (and his younger sister). Seb uses switches attached to his tray and has worked hard at learning to target these switches to access his communication aids, computer and iPad games. Rally Racer needed to be a ‘drop-in solution’ for Seb’s switch configuration. It was!

icture showing Seb laughing because he has just crashed the Rally Racer racing cars
Seb has just crashed the Rally Racer cars

Kara initially contacted me via Facebook and we then bounced ideas back and forth on email. It turned out that Seb wanted either a train set or racing car set. In the end it was the Rally Racer racing car set that won out. I built one for Seb and shipped it to Toronto.

Picture showing the two Rally Racer cars Seb has crashed at the track cross-over point.
Rally Racer cars – crashed again

Gifts for Seb was my blog about Kara’s approach to finding toys suitable for a six year old with a cerebral palsy condition and especially her search for toys that ‘continued to deliver’ long after the initial excitement has passed.

Kara tells me Rally Racer was a bit hit on Christmas Day with family and friends. Seb was thrilled to bits 🙂 His absolute favourite bit is crashing the cars – isn’t that typical boy fun.

This week she sent me a blog link to her Rally Racer review. It’s a very good read and Rally Racer gets an A+ rating which ain’t bad in my books.

I encourage everyone to read the Rally Racer review and join the 1300+ parents and professionals who are following her blog.

Watch this space: Kara is also planning to review the Switch Dice for playing board games we designed; I’m looking forward to hearing what she says about it.

Switch accessible telephone calls

This blog is about making switch accessible telephone calls using an APPlicator connected to an iPhone 6 with the help of Siri and a Smoothie switch.

The APPlicator from Pretorian Technologies is a really useful piece of kit that connects with Apple’s iOS devices.  The connection is wireless using Bluetooth and works very well with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. On the other side the APPlicator has sockets for four push-button switches like the Smoothie switches.

Here’s a link to a blog a comprehensive blog about the iSwitch – think of the iSwitch as an APPlicator with a built in switch.

Making the connections

Before making a switch accessible telephone call there are three things you need to connect together:

  1. the APPlicator
  2. the iPhone and
  3. the push-button switch.

IPhone 6 – here I’m going to assume you have already stored a series of telephone numbers in your ‘Contacts’ app. If not then you will need to do that first. APPlicator – make a Bluetooth connection with the iPhone. Follow these steps:

Making a Bluetooth Connection

  • Go to the Bluetooth menu on your iPhone (Settings then Bluetooth). Make sure
    Image showing the APPlicator Bluetooth connection to the iPhone
    APPlicator Bluetooth connection to the iPhone

    Bluetooth is turned on; if not slide the iOS slider to the right.

  • Turn on the APPlicator by pressing either ‘channel or ’mode’ switch once.
  • After a few seconds the APPlicator should appear as a ‘discoverable’ device listed as something like ‘Pretorian-V49.3-ABC1. Tap on the name and the pairing process will begin.
  • The APPlicator is ready to use when you see ‘Connected’ in the iPhone’s Bluetooth device list.

Setting the iOS command

  • Press the ‘CHAN’ button on the APPlicator to select the channel you will use to connect the switch to. Let’s say ‘1’.
  • Press the ‘MODE’ button repeatedly until the the letter ‘T’ appears in the red window.
Image showing the APPlicator and iPhone being used to make a switch accessible telephone call.
Make switch accessible calls with APPlicator and the iPhone

Letter ‘T’ represents an iOS instruction that has been programmed into the APPlicator and gets sent to the iPhone when the user presses the push-button switch. When the iPhone receives the letter ‘T’ it knows what it needs to do. I know that sounds a bit ‘techie’ but it all goes on in the background and when you’ve set it you can forget it.

Finally, connect the switch into the channel you chose. That’s channel ‘1’ if you are following me step-by-step.

Making a call

This is where it all comes together and you can make your first switch accessible telephone call. 🙂

  • Press the switch for a slightly longer period that you normally would – perhaps for half of a second (a bit of trial and error may be needed to get the best results for each individuals circumstance)
  • Letter ‘T’ tells the iPhone to leave any app it’s in and launch Siri.
  • Siri then asks ‘what can i help you with?’
  • Tell Siri to call ‘home’ or ‘mum’ or an individual telephone number such as ‘01630 123456’

I also found that if you have two switches programmed with channel ‘T’ then this can help if the iPhone throws a wobbly and gets a bit stuck. If that happens try pressing the second switch to get back to Siri.

It works, it’s far from perfect but it is certainly worth playing with. I’d love to know if it works for you.

Get in touch via our Contact Us page or why not give me a call; my mobile number is 07774 318443.

Ion Party Starter

Ion Party Starter is a fantastic wireless speaker with pulsating lights. It’s small enough to carry in your pocket but delivers a big booming sound. With the beat-synchronised lighting it turns any den or bedroom into a party space. And, it’s wireless! Simply connect the Ion Party Starter via Bluetooth to your tablet, phone or music player and let the party and light show begin.

  • Ion Party Starter - wireless speaker
    Ion Party Starter – Wireless Speaker with Synchronised Party Lights

    Ion Party Starter works with iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android powered phones and tablets.

  • Measures a compact 105mm tall by 60mm diameter and at just short of 200g is small and light enough to carry around.
  • Powered by a rechargeable battery through a USB connection.

Sensory Light and Sound

When I first saw the Ion Party Starter video I was impressed and decided to buy one. After connecting it to my iPad I was amazed at how good it is It’s loud enough and the lights fill the room. It’s so good I took it along to our stand at Kidz-up-North. Lots of visitors wanted to buy one said it would be a fantastic addition to a young persons sensory space.

Perhaps in a full-sized sensory room you may want to consider its bigger brother the Ion Party Time.

This video gives an impression of what the Ion Party Starter is capable of and how to connect it to your iPad using Bluetooth.

Ion Party Starter – use it three ways

1: music only

2: pulsating lights only

3: music and pulsating lights combined

In ‘music only’ mode it sounds good and is sufficiently loud. In ‘lights only’ mode it projects a colour changing, pulsating light show onto walls and ceilings. The light show is bright and stimulating and many individuals will enjoy the effect.

Mode three is when the Ion Party Starter shows what is is really all about. Music and beat-synchronised lights creates a superb sensory effect and a definite ‘must-have’ addition to any young persons party space.