Dutch Inventor Creates Specialized Accessories For iPad Users With Disabilities

Strap stylus

This weird-looking gadget is a Strap Stylus for iPad, designed for people who require assistive devices to help them use computers.

The Strap Stylus, along with the Mouthstick and Steady Stylus pictured below, all come with soft-touch capacitive tips. They’re the brainchild of Dutch designer Ivo Beckers, who now sells them worldwide on Etsy under the name ShapeDad. (We previously mentioned his conductive paintbrush socks a couple of years ago.)

His company makes a lot of 3D printed stands and supports for iPads, but assistive devices are now an important business line.

Mouthstick

Steadystylus

We contacted Ivo to find out more – here’s the story in his words.

The ShapeDad life started with 3D printing in mind. But after releasing the first product in mid 2010 (the iPad Love Stand), I soon discovered that this was either too expensive or the materials where too limited for day to day use as consumers products. So I went to the garage and started handcrafting and working with more traditional materials like wood, aluminum, copper and fabric.

The assistive devices started really by accident. My first handmade product was an iPad stylus made from a highly conductive fabric sock (knitted by my wife!) that can be wrapped around any pen holder (the Stylus Socks). They worked pretty good and people from around the world started buying them from my Etsy shop.

Then one day I got an email from an American quadriplegic patient who went to the local Apple store looking for a mouthstick pointer for his iPad. The Apple staff couldn’t help him directly with a product, but started searching the web for possible solutions. Then they discovered my socks, his wife ordered the regular stylus, took the sock of and wrapped it around his existing mouthstick. And it worked great! So I started developing a ready-to-use mouthstick for the iPad and found a new niche in assistive technology.

A month later the same happened with my second assistive product. A UK computing teacher and mother of a disabled 3-year-old son sent me a picture of him using a handcrafted t-shaped pointer with my conductive sock wrapped around it (see slides 102 and 103 in this slideshow). So I took this idea back to the garage and the Steady Stylus was born.

And in the past month this happened again with the Strap and Flex Stylus for people with grip disabilities. Due to the handcrafted mind set of the Etsy platform, people are very willing to approach you for a tailored solution; something that won’t happen very quickly with a regular commercial retail party. And this is also the beauty of the current ShapeDad life; one-on-one interaction with the client and developing and making a proper solution.

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

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