We’ve written about myriad technologies developed to assist people with upper or lower body impairments. Cyberdyne’s Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) exoskeleton senses minute motion signals on the skin to determine the wearer’s intention. Seoul National University’s BioRobotics lab developed a soft wearable robot that fits over the thumb and first two fingers to help with grasping.

Unlike other devices, Tecla’s Tecla-E cloud-connected assistive device doesn’t move, pick up, or hold anything. The Tecla-E is a user-interface infrastructure device that connects with up to nine switches to control as many as eight Bluetooth digital devices. The concept is similar to a KVM (keyboard, video, and mouse) switch that connects one set of controls and display to multiple computers. In this case, however, a person with limited upper-body mobility could use a variety of interfaces such as jelly bean switches, buddy buttons, and sip and puff switches to connect to a smartphone, a tablet, a television, a computer, multiple Android or iOS devices, and various Wi-Fi connected smart home devices. The Tecla-E has a built-in light touch button. Two additional switches can be connected via a 1/8-inch or 3.5 mm jack. With an optional Multiple Switch adapter, the user can connect with the maximum nine switches.

The Tecla-E’s concept builds off the reality that most of us interact with numerous digital devices as we go through our daily routines. Why wouldn’t mobility-limited people want the same ability? Rather than attempt to build a super-switch that works with a subset of devices for people with specifically defined mobility issues, the Tecla-E is the device-in-the-middle. By defining two connectivity channels, physically connected switches and wireless devices, the Tecla-E levels the playing ground to work with all but the most stubborn proprietary connections.

Tecla’s intermediary function device is an excellent example of technology that solves a real-world problem. If advances in nanotube implants, AI, and clinical-grade tiny sensors are racehorses pulling a beer wagon, the Tecla-E is the harness that connects and helps them pull together.