Shriyaa Shrouti, Samantha Schufman, James Gerber
Children with autism demonstrate difficulty in vocabulary development, communication with caregivers and their environment, and social cue processing. There are many forms of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices currently on the market, however the price of this type of technology is unaffordable for many families. Additionally, as a child’s vocabulary expands, the technology best-suited to meet their needs also changes, broadening the search for a cost-competitive, versatile, and easy to use device. HEARD (Handheld Educational Augmentative RFID
Device) was designed by the GLASS (Greater Lafayette Area Special Services) EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) Program at Purdue University. The goal was to create a highly portable and easily customizable AAC device. HEARD uses functional, reusable, and re-programmable RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) cards that trigger the playback of recorded speech associated with the card and its graphics. Speech commands and phrases are recorded through a small built-in microphone and stored on an RFID card. The message is played back when the user presses the RFID card onto the playback button. The user can then assign new messages to the card when needed using the built-in recording function. In this way, HEARD allows users to master new vocabulary by setting their own learning pace, and not having to rely on the standardized learning patterns of other forms of AAC. HEARD is small enough for a child to easily hold and carry, approximately the size and weight of an iPhone 6, while durable enough to withstand a classroom or clinical environment.