A few days ago I had the opportunity to set up an iClick and iControl demonstration for the parents and professionals attending the Assert National Conference 2016. In this blog I’m going to talk about what I did and how it went on the day.

For background info on the iClick and iControl read these earlier blog posts: iClick mains controller and the iControl for iPad switching of toys. The blogs covere how to connect both to the iPad, customise the on-screen buttons and how to select the different switching modes.

iClick Sensory Lights and Sounds

Image of the iClick app buttons used in the iClick and iControl demonstration - here customised with images of the light and music demo with the iClick mains controller
Customised iClick app buttons

The iClick can switch mains powered electrical equipment and I chose to demo a light and sound show; something that could easily be set-up in a young adults bedroom. I used a rotary disco light I bought from Amazon, an old radio tuned to a local station, the iClick and my iPad (4th generation) running the iClick app (downloaded from Apple’s app store)

Rather than use the app’s default buttons I took pictures of the light and radio and used them instead. I set both switch modes to ‘latched’ so that when pressed the light and music would stay on until the on-screen iPad buttons were pressed again. (I could also set them for a timed interval)

So how did it go?

iClick performed as expected. The light system worked well and it was clear from the discussion that parents liked the idea of some sort of light show. No problem with batteries as this light source uses a transformer I could plug into one of the iClick sockets. The radio also worked well – I know it looks a bit old but it still did the job.

If anything, the weakest link was the iPad battery. From full charge at 10:00 AM it dropped to around 20% by the time we switched off at 5:30 PM. That would be overcome if I’d connected the charger to the iPad – realistically something you would do if you were at home. On the day though I didn’t want to be restricted by the charger cable.

iControl Toy Control

iControl is like the little brother to the iClick in that it is used with battery powered devices – typically 2 or 3 AA type batteries. This is typical of the switch adapted special needs toys we have on the Excitim’s special needs toys website.

Image of the iClick app buttons used in the iClick and iControl demonstration - here customised with images of the toys used with the iControl for iPad switching
Customised iClick app buttons

I customised the switch buttons in the iClick app in exactly the same way and this time used pictures of the two toys we took along. One was our Freddie Fish Bubble Machine and the other was the Little People Lift and Lower Fire Engine.

However, there needs to be a wired connection between the iControl and the toy. iControl comes supplied with two 3.5mm jack leads in the box. The leads are around 1.5 metres long which gives lots of flexibility to hide the iControl away from curious little fingers. Simply connect one jack plug to the iControl and the plug into the jack socket on the adapted toy.

I set the switch modes to ‘direct’ for both toys. For Freddie Fish that meant the switch needed to be pressed continuously to get a shower of bubbles. Whereas simply touching the fire engine button was sufficient to trigger the sounds and phrases on the toy.

With a little coaching the kids soon got the knack to what to do. With tablets now so well established in schools and at home many kids have figured out if a ‘picture’ is touched something will happen. Using the iControl or iClick is just the same.

So how did it go?

iControl also worked flawlessly. It is a far smaller unit that the iClick and could easily be hidden away under a chair, behind a desk or wherever is convenient. That would be better for those children who like to grab onto things. Battery life on the iControl was no issue at all and it lasted the day with ease; without us even thinking about a recharge. One question I had was ‘how many times can the battery be recharged before it dies?’ The answer is thousands of times.

Battery consumption on the iPad (3rd generation) was about the same as we experienced with the iClick demonstration.

The smaller overall footprint of this set-up makes it suitable for use of a table, desk or, with small toys, on a typical wheelchair tray.

Overall, the iClick and iControl demonstration worked very well and feedback from parents and professionals at the conference was very positive. Feel free to get to contact us if you have any questions about setting-up and using the iClick or iControl – I’ll do my best to answer them and if I can’t I know someone who will.