Interesting Technology from BETT 2014

For those unfamiliar with BETT, it is the largest educational technology exhibition in Europe.  Taking place annually in London, there are over 600 exhibitors including massive companies such as Google, Dell, Intel and Microsoft.  The interesting stuff, from an Additional Support for Learning perspective, is generally on the smaller exhibition stands, though there is plenty from the larger manufacturers which may be suitable for those with Additional Support Needs.

I’ve summarised my highlights below.  For summary of my tweets during the event, including pictures go to:


2014-01-23 17.40.39There were multiple stands showing many different iPad cases, but this one caught my attention. Kensington have a rubbery case called a SafeGrip which surrounds the iPad, but also has a handle.  Great for students who struggle with carrying equipment.

Tech21 make cases from a polymer which adjusts to pressure so should create better resistance to being dropped.  They have a range of cases, but more significantly screen covers which protect against impact to the screen (the most vulnerable part of any tablet).

Intel was showing a ruggedized Windows tablet – The StudyBook- which should stand up to a fair amount of abuse. Significantly the screen was protected.  The person on the stand took great delight in repeatedly dropping a large ball- bearing onto the screen.  See a video here

2014-01-24 14.46.10Rather than rely on a case to supply a handle, Samsung have produced a version of their Tab 3, 7 inch Android tablet for education which has a handle built in.  The disadvantage?  It is bright yellow and blue.


There are currently two pieces of software designed to support emergent eye-gaze users (Eye-FX and Look to Learn).  Inclusive technology were showing previews of their software package – Inclusive Eye Gaze Learning Curve – which comes out later in the year.  The first title focusses on Attention and Looking and provides a progression of engaging activities to assess and develop eye-gaze users.

Audio Notetaker is a great piece of software from Sonocent. They have now released a version for iOS (iPad/Phone etc.).  Called “Recorder” it enables students to record live audio of a lecture and mark the important points as they go along.  The result can later be uploaded to the full version of Audio Notetaker for further revision and linking to PowerPoint slides or images.


2014-01-24 10.44.58

Since production of the Flip video camera ceased I’ve been looking for an alternative which is as easy to use, but not expensive.  TTS have produced one which seems to fit the bill.  It feels a bit plasticy, but is simple to use and has a built in USB plug to transfer the content.  It also has a 4GB SD card and HDMI output.

Beamz is a very unusual and accessible way to play music.  For students who are unable to hold or play  a standard instruments, Beamz provides 4 laser beams which, when broken by a hand or object, will trigger sounds from an attached computer.

Fil McIntyre

Assistive Technologist, The BRITE Initiative

Eye-Gaze Update: Motivating Potential Users

Use of eye-gaze technology has increased over the last few years. It is a way for individuals with little or no physical movement to control a computer screen by moving their eyes.

Fil McIntyre, one of BRITE’s Assistive Technologists, recently attended an event entitled Eye-Gaze Technology: From the Ground Up

Run by Tobii and hosted by KeyComm, the event was a chance to catch up on recent developments in this rapidly changing area of technology, while also revisiting some basics.

The focus for the day was about working towards a method of introducing users to eye-gaze which is both motivational and developmental. Until recently the dominant model of usage had been an on-screen grid which was used for communication (via electronic voice output) or control (e.g. on screen keyboard, mobile texts). 

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Communication Matters Road Show visits Northern Ireland in June

While BRITE is a Scottish initiative, the success of our virtual training which takes place entirely online, has enabled participants from further afield to join us.

At the moment, many of our online trainees are based in Northern Ireland. With this in mind, we’ll endeavour to include news of events relevant to all our trainees as our readership expands.

On June 21st 2011 the Communication Matters Road Show will visit Belfast. These days are free to attend, but you do need to register in advance.

The focus of the day is on the latest technology for people with complex needs who may require specialist technology to communicate and/or to access a computer by alternative means.

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Eye Gaze Study Day – report

Individual using eye-gaze technologyThis full and informative day was held at Stirling Management Centre on 9th November.  Eyegaze technology has been growing in usage and availability in the last few years.  It enables users with very little movement to have meaningful access to communication and computer technology.

Dr. Mick Donegan who has been involved in research in this area for over six years summed up how far the technology had moved forward and gave several examples of users who had benefitted.  Other practitioners including Janet Scott from SCTCI in Glasgow gave key advice on how, why and when to consider eye gaze technology for individuals.

There will be a chance to find out more about this exciting area and to try some eye gaze systems at a BRITE seminar entitled Computer Access for Students with Profound and Complex Needs which takes place in March 2011.  To book onto the seminar click here or ring 0131 535 4756.