Staunton Media Lab Unveils ARMi Assistive Technology Arm
ARMi Brings Tech Tools Within Reach of Disabled
Putting 1,000 helping hands into homes this holiday season.
(Staunton, VA — September 1, 2017) On Friday, September 1, the Staunton Media Lab will debut a breakthrough in assistive technology — the ARMi Assistive Technology Arm — putting advanced technology within reach of the disabled.
The ARMi (short for “Advanced Recreational Media Interface”) is a portable, mechanical arm that allows for “hands-free” use of smartphones, tablet computers, remote controls, and other useful devices. The ARMi Assistive Technology Arm also holds many devices useful for disabled or mobility-challenged persons, including a mirror, a magnifying glass and a magnetic plate.
The ARMi was developed as an inexpensive document reader for the blind. Document readers for the blind can cost several thousand dollars — too expensive for many who need them. However, smartphones that cost less than $100 can read documents to the blind — if the person has help holding the phone. The ARMi Assistive Technology Arm provides those helping hands. With the ARMi and a smart phone, blind persons can easily position the phone and have books and documents read out loud by the phone.
The ARMi begins selling on Amazon in January, 2018, for only $99. However, during the month of September, the ARMi is available for only $69 through Kickstarter. Supplies are limited to 1,000 units.
Staunton Media Lab Audio Director, Coley Evans, co-developer of the ARMi, has been blind since birth. He relies on his ARMi for audio production. Coley’s ARMi holds his microphone in the center, a digital recorder in one arm and a smartphone in the other. The ARMi comes with three flexible gooseneck arms that mount in any direction. It’s a video or audio streamer’s dream come true!
With the ARMi, your tech is in touch and your tools stay put! No more hunting for the remote control — it’s on the ARMi. So are the phone, the calculator, the car keys, the headphones. The ARMi makes your tech toys easier to find and harder to steal. Merchants love ringing up sales with the ARMi — just swipe, swivel and sign!
The ARMi improves posture by allowing people to look up or stand up when using phones or tablets. It ergonomically adjusts to the level you want. It can attach to hospital beds, wheel chairs, bedroom furniture and even bathroom furniture. The ARMi provides assistance wherever it is needed. It needs no batteries and has no power cord. The ARMi is rugged, durable and well suited to a wide variety of locations.
The ARMi was developed at the Staunton Media Lab (SML), a program for blind, deaf and “uniquely-able.” SML is a for-profit venture producing audio and video content for a wide variety of customers including the American Shakespeare Center, voiceovers for radio and TV commercials, and video trailers for authors and musicians.
In 2016, Staunton Media Lab was recognized as Business of the Year by Virginia’s Department of Blind and Vision Impaired. Steve O’Keefe, the Lab’s Executive Director, has worked with blind, deaf, and cognitively-impaired persons for 35 years. O’Keefe taught at Tulane University for over a decade before hurricanes caused him to move to Staunton in 2010.
The Staunton Media Lab began as an afternoon workshop in audio and video editing for the blind and the deaf. In 2016, the project incorporated and moved onto the campus of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton. The Lab is housed in an old television production studio that had not been operated in over a decade.
Details of Kickstarter Campaign for the ARMi
The ARMi is available exclusively on Kickstarter during the month of September. The campaign ends on October 1. The ARMi retails for $99 but is available during the Kickstarter campaign for only $69 plus shipping. Supplies are limited to 1,000 units and they are expected to sell out quickly.
“We are practically giving them away,” says O’Keefe. “The Kickstarter campaign will help us fund design work to streamline the ARMi and bring the cost down enough to sell them on Amazon for $99 and make a profit.” Kickstarter ARMies will arrive by Thanksgiving. O’Keefe’s goal is to get “1,000 helping hands into homes this holiday season.”
The Kickstarter page has videos and pictures of the ARMi being used in many different ways. Workshop ARMi shows the device with a magnifying glass, smart phone, tablet and cup holder attached. Bathroom ARMi shows it being used as a toilet paper holder, with a magnifying glass, mirror and smartphone holder. “Some people have no choice but to spend a lot of time in bed or in the bath,” O’Keefe said.
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