16 December 2009
Some months ago, Â someone from the NHS came here to assess what environmental control systems they could provide, bearing in mind the continuing loss of the use of my hands. Today, an engineer came as a result of that visit to fit some equipment, basically touch sensitive light switches, a hands-free alarm telephone from the office to the house and a thing called a â€˜possumâ€™, which enables me to operate the lights, telephone and power switches from a foot control. This possum is activated through a small television like screen on a heavy base through which one scrolls, via the foot pedal, to the particular command required. I know I should be terribly grateful and not critical but I have to admit this â€˜possumâ€™ is a bit basic and as a first shot, no doubt, would be is useful for someone who is severely handicapped but it needs to go to its next stage of development and become perhaps wireless or voice activated, for example.
It is only possible to make a telephone call by scrolling throughÂ page after page of embedded numbers via the foot pedal. Or you can make a call again by scrolling through various columns of numbers on a dial pad the screen. A tedious process, Â make a mistake and you have to start again. It is not possible to find a number either by voice or alphabeticallyÂ so I can see that, although it was well intended, it will have a very limited use forÂ me, certainly for the time being. These people are coming back in January to fix another couple of control switches, basically for the lights in the office and my bedroom. I can also switch on and off any device switches operated from an electrical socket such as a fan heater or television, so I suppose, when I ultimately Â lose the use of my hands, this will be useful, although I would need to have a duplicate system set up in the house as it only works if you can see the screen and I cannot see the NHS running to that.
Having thought about this overnight I have decided that this equipment really is from the Ark. It’s equivalent to the earliest Amstrad computer that I owned, around 20 years ago, Â compared with my modern laptop. What is needed is a voice activated multi-screen device which I have already designed in my mind.Â I know that all the science and equipment is available and it really should not be beyond the wit of man to put one together. I have already made an approach to one company.
The day was neatly rounded off with a very nice supper party at the W-Pâ€™s with eight other old faithfuls. All, but one couple, have been married to the same partner for the best part of 50 years and are still living in the same house they bought around 40 Â years ago. Even the odd coupleÂ can account for 30 years. Not one divorce amongst us – not bad for a gathering of friends today.