GridPad Trilogy Communication Device Aids People With Speech and Motor Disorders 

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by Steve Bryson, PhD |

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GridPad Trilogy device

Control Bionics has announced the launch of the GridPad Trilogy, an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device intended to aid people living with a range of conditions that affect movement and speech, such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

The new neuro-based voice output communication device offers multiple access methods within the same system, matching a user’s condition and abilities as it progresses.

Access methods include touch control, IntelliGaze v5 eye gaze device from Alea Technologies, and the NeuroNode 3.0 control, which is a wearable sensor that uses nerve signals sent from the brain to a muscle to control the Smartbox Grid Pad 12 computer system. 

“Our mission is to develop accessible, leading-edge AAC devices that can help those living with paralysis and loss of speech gain more control over their world,” Rob Wong, CEO of Control Bionics, said in a press release. “Our latest solution, the GridPad Trilogy, is the result of strategic partnerships with some of the best minds in the industry, resulting in a technology that provides unparalleled benefits for our clients.”

The three-in-one AAC device allows faster communication speed, with rates up to 133% compared to other systems. With multiple ways to access the computer, it alleviates traditional insurance barriers, such as limits on features and access methods, according to the company.

The combination of technologies allows for faster typing speed, more control, and less user fatigue, along with a 12-hour battery life, which is the most extended battery life available, the company said. 

The device is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, with 8GB of RAM and a solid-state hard drive, running GRID3 — software to help people with disabilities communicate using text, symbols, and pictures aligned on a grid. The system has enhanced sound and volume capabilities as well as a 12.5-inch hardened glass touchscreen display. 

“The new GridPad Trilogy will be an integral part of our product line, further enhancing our augmentative communication device offering,” said James Schorey, chief technology officer, Control Bionics. “While our current Trilogy solution will continue to offer clients portability and speed, the new GridPad Trilogy is a more robust solution with unmatched battery life, sound quality, and durability, rounding out our line to appeal to all needs,” he said.

Along with touch and eye controls, the NeuroNode 3.0 control is a medical-grade, non-invasive electrode that attaches to the skin’s surface and measures the electrical activity associated with muscle activation, a method called electromyography (EMG). EMG signals have been used in clinical and research settings to diagnose neuromuscular diseases, rehabilitation, and controlling prosthetic devices. 

The NeuroNode can detect and amplify weak EMG signals, even with the absence of visible muscle movement, and adapts to body movement changes over time. These signals are relayed to the computer using wireless Bluetooth technology, which can control various functions, including speech software, sending emails, accessing social media, and text messaging.