Customizable, 3D Printable Keyguard for Grid-based, Free-form, and Hybrid AAC Apps on Tablets

Stage Ideation
Project Need Agility / Dexterity, Cognitive, Mobility, Vision
Created By Ken Hackbarth
Capabilities Needed 3D Printing
Time to Complete Varies depending on device
Cost to Build Varies depending on device
Creative Commons License attribution-4-0-international

Keyguards help individuals with limited ability to point reliably at regions of an app running on a tablet. They do this by physically separating access to specific regions of the tablet screen with rails that rise up from the surface of the tablet. In this case, the apps are associated with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

Some AAC apps organize their content into grids with menus and message bars, above or below the grid. Others are much more creative and unpredictable in their layouts. Hybrid apps are largely grid-based but their keyguards can be enhanced by selectively exposing specific regions of the app.

The number of possible choices for tablet, tablet case, and AAC app, make it impossible to design a few keyguards that will meet everyone’s needs. To complicate matters further, users have lots of flexibility for how they organize the content in their apps. All of this is to say that users must be given control over the keyguard design. I know of only one 3D modeling tool where that is possible – without requiring that each user become an expert in 3D modeling. That tool is OpenSCAD. OpenSCAD has a “Customizer” feature that allows users to provide input to an OpenSCAD design that can shape the design to meet their specific needs.

We have created an OpenSCAD design that allows the user to identify their tablet, describe how the AAC app is laid out, describe their case, and choose a mounting method to mount the keyguard directly to the tablet or to the case. Once the keyguard is fully described you can generate and save an STL file that you can print on your 3D printer.

This is a Thingiverse Customizer design but only for grid-based apps. Free-form and Hybrid apps require greater specification and visualization than Thingiverse’s Customizer can support. For those keyguards you will need to download and install the latest version of OpenSCAD and a good text editor like Notepad++.

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