Perkins & Philips to Develop LightAide for Children With Disabilities

Perkins Products and Philips have announced a partnership in developing LightAide, a new LED device designed as a teaching tool for children with low vision or other disabilities. Arrays of multicolored LED lights in the LightAide can be programmed and manipulated in various ways to help children get ready to learn reading, math, and critical interactive skills. The product will be demonstrated at the Perkins Products booth during the Abilities Expo Boston, September 20-22 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (Hall C).

Both Perkins and Philips have histories of innovation and collaboration; this latest partnership was sparked by Philips Healthcare employee Catherine Rose, who noticed that the type of LED lighting used in the Philips Color Kinetics showroom could capture the attention of her seven-year-old daughter Alexis, who is deafblind. Realizing that the interactive displays of colored light could be a powerful learning tool, Rose suggested that the company look into developing an interactive light product for children with disabilities.

With support from Philips’ Lighting & Healthcare groups, Rose moved forward with a project that brought together Philips Color Kinetics engineers and staffers from Perkins Products. Educators and therapists at Perkins School for the Blind conducted tests and advised the designers. That interaction evolved into an increasingly sophisticated series of prototypes, incorporating feedback from teachers and students. Starting from a 7×7 prototype grid of 49 LED points of light, the final version of LightAide with 224 LEDs in a 14×16 grid features an oversized switch button manageable for little hands with limited motor skills. A control panel on the side allows teachers to choose from a variety of educational activities.

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