Helping people with disabilities to live more independently is ensuring one Malvern company is celebrating its milestone birthday in style.
Assistive Control, which employs 5 people at its Worcestershire headquarters, is 15 years-old in 2013 and is looking to mark the special occasion by increasing sales of its assistive technology product range.
Backed by strategic and financial support from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), the firm has successfully brought to market ‘Typeassist’ – a computer-based communication aid that meets the needs of disabled people who are unable to use a ‘qwerty’ keyboard.
This innovation is proving extremely popular with adults and children with cerebral palsy, an acquired brain injury or degenerative conditions, such as motor neurone disease.
Kate Browne, Director at Assistive Control, commented: “We have spent many years developing the software to make ‘Typeassist’ possible and am delighted to now see it being used to make a difference to so many lives.
“The patented typing system replaces the traditional keyboard with 16 large touchscreen cells and state-of-the-art word prediction to ensure fast typing and speech output.”
She went on to add: “Our assistive technology is ready to use straight from the box as we completely hide the underlying Windows software making it straightforward to operate for the user, their family and their carers.
“Access to the computer is so important in this day and age that we have to make them accessible as it can have a major bearing on someone’s independence.”
Assistive Control, which is a division of Malvern Scientific, has been supported by the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s New Product Gateway programme.
The company has successfully secured a UK patent for Typeassist. Working with Advisors Alison Philips and Peter Roach it then finalised the development and CE marking of its new ‘Switchcontrol’, which will open up technology to people with a wider range of disabilities.
In addition to the one-on-one support, MAS has also put the firm in touch with Aston Business School, Growth Accelerator and the University of Warwick.
“The package of support we’ve received has been fantastic and it has helped us build a business that has the potential to make a real difference to thousands of people across the world,” explained Dr Marc Beale, Director and one of the UK’s leading experts on assistive technologies.
“We’ve proved that we can create products that work in real life environments and are continually looking at new concepts we can turn into reality. There are quite a few in the pipeline.”
Peter Roach, Manufacturing Advisor at MAS, added his support: “Giving people with disabilities more independence by introducing new products into the marketplace is a massive opportunity and Assistive Control is ahead of the game.
“It has invested a lot of time and money into developing the base technologies that a lot of the aids are based on and now is the time to exploit these by really driving their sales and marketing.”
All eyes are focused on Autumn, with the company’s second product set for its global launch.
Branded ‘Helpmate’, the assistive technology systems provide the user with independent access to music, DVDs, books and photos through a range of communication symbols.
MAS, which is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), works for manufacturers and through experienced advisors can help shape strategy, create new products, reduce waste and review supply chains.
Companies can take advantage of a free review that identifies key priority areas and funding is available for improvement projects focused on increasing efficiency, developing new products, strengthening supply chains and boosting sales.
More details on Assistive Control can be found at www.assistivecontrol.com or by contacting 01886 884188.