Design News has a brief story and video on the “Frankenkindle,” a Kindle modification that an electrical engineer hacked together to make a Kindle that was easier to use for his sister who has cerebral palsy. It’s actually a story from late 2012, posted as part of a retrospective, and we have featured it briefly before, but it’s worth taking another look anyway.

The project involves a keypad taken from a children’s V.Reader, with large buttons his sister could work easily, connected to a circuit board that triggers scripts when each button is pressed, via a cable into a jailbroken and Launchpad-hacked Kindle’s USB port. The video shows the pages turning rather slowly, but then when you’re reading a whole page at a time, it doesn’t really need to turn very fast.

It’s a clever idea, and looks like it could help a lot of people—not just those with disabilities, but the elderly, too. Assuming those people could find an electrical engineer to put it together for them, anyway. The article includes parts lists, schematics, and instructions for such a person to use. The designer posted several videos of the construction and testing process on YouTube as well.

I wonder whether there might be a market for mass-producing adapted Kindles, perhaps by one of those equipment vendors who sell through the Apple Store’s accessibility section? Anything that helps more people read is definitely a good idea.

It could more useful, from an accessibility point of view, if Amazon were to add Bluetooth to its Kindles (as was briefly expected to happen with the Oasis) so that readers with accessibility issues could use some of the off-the-shelf controllers from that accessibility section to manipulate their Kindles instead of necessitating all that hacking.


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