Tobii Dynavox and Advantech Deliver a Cutting-edge AAC Product
Author │Aileen Huang
Interviewee│Anders Malnes Mathisen - Product Manager/ Tobii Dynavox, Gracegs.Lin - Product Manager / SIoT Mobile Computing Services
Tobii Eye Tracking Technology Enables AAC devices
Although I-Series products have helped many physically challenged people, Tobii Dynavox’s enthusiasm for improving and helping didn’t stop there. In 2017, they started sourcing for new generation I-Series products. Being in a very niche market and serving unique users, Tobii Dynavox’s criteria for a co-creation partner were very clear—stability, quality, and long-term service. Mr. Anders Malnes Mathisen, Tobii Dynavox’s product manager told us, “For us it is very important to achieve quality. We need to have a reliable and competent design manufacturing partner who can provide robust and reliable products, and that’s the key metric for supplier evaluation.”
A Sustainable Product is the Key to Long-term Services
At the beginning of the product development process, Tobii Dynavox and Advantech spent around 6 months just to work out the industrial design. The mobile DMS team flew to Tobii Dynavox’s U.S. office in Pittsburgh twice during this time to understand and realize Tobii Dynavox’s design concept.
In contrast to Advantech’s previous industrial applications, instead of focusing on the size and weight of tablets, robustness was the top priority. But for Tobii Dynavox’s users, tablets needed to be light-weight without compromising on operation times, robustness, and waterproof resistance. The tablets also needed to be ergonomically designed to fit the eye tracking functions, and to allow face-to-face communication as natural as possible, as well as to have connectivity and functions that consumer tablets have. Mr. Anders Malnes Mathisen commented, “It’s very important to deliver features that are differentiated from consumer tablets. We can provide a lot of value by offering powerful and unique features, such as the partner window.”
To achieve Tobii Dynavox’s design requirements, Advantech did many things not yet tried before, from unique printed circuit board design, to sourcing extra small size components, and even to the selection of the touch panel. Industrial grade touch panels are normally thicker than consumer panels due to their impact-resistant and vandal proof features. To achieve Tobii Dynavox’s aesthetic design concept, the mobile DMS team took advantage of Advantech’s global supply chain and found a thin panel that not only passed drop tests, but also complied with medical safety and EMC regulations.
product development was nearly finished, unexpected component end-of-life and
shortage issues occurred. It’s easy for most of us to buy a new phone or a new
laptop every now and then. For Tobii Dynavox’s users, getting used to or being
trained to use a new AAC device might take several months, and afterwards the
AAC device would become a lasting companion. To ensure a long-term service for
the new I-Series products, Tobii Dynavox made a painful decision to make a
design change, which has set the project back for one year. But thanks to
Advantech’s global sourcing ability and understanding of sustainable product
design, the mass-produced products were finally delivered in the last quarter
Mr. Anders Malnes Mathisen commented, “The beginning of the project was very challenging, but looking at what the new I-Series products have achieved. We are very happy with our partnership with Advantech.” The new I-Series products have helped thousands of physically challenged individuals in several countries since its launch at the end of 2019. The sales of I-Series products heavily rely on medical professionals to raise the awareness of such advanced and dedicated AAC devices among patients. Tobii Dynavox’s deep understanding of national health insurance schemes and subsidies for medical aids in Europe and North America, as well as connections with local authorities, special-needs education schools, and patient groups, contribute to the promotion and awareness of I-Series products.
Apart from Europe and North America, Tobii Dynavox is also ambitiously promoting I-Series products in Japan and China. Undoubtedly, Tobii Dynavox’s years of effort can draw attention to medical professionals and local authorities in many more countries to help more people in need. Looking to the future, Tobii Dynavox and Advantech continue searching for the latest technologies and developments that can benefit people with physical disabilities to empower them to live independent fulfilling lives.