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There are around seventy million people internationally who have a stutter, a form of fluency disorder. Some fluency assistance devices are available to the public, but most are highly expensive or unreliable. The Fluency Assistive Device (FAD) team seeks to assist a niche community of these individuals for whom therapy has not worked, and who currently rely on a device known as the Edinburgh Masker. To best reach this community, FAD is partnering with Dave Germeyer, who has invaluable experience repairing these masker devices for his clientele. FAD is redesigning the masker to increase its portability, functionality, and cost-effectiveness by developing an improved analog and new digital version. The Analog Masker v1.3 focuses on updated components and consolidated circuitry to eliminate troublesome wiring of the original. The Digital Masker v1.0 employs a Bluetooth-enabled microcontroller to achieve masker functionality, offering the flexibility of alternative fluency assistance algorithms to assist a broader group of users. An updated prototype of the Analog Masker v1.3 was fabricated and tested for power consumption and overall functional output characteristics versus the original Edinburgh version. The Analog Masker v1.3 has also been fully packaged and enclosed to produce a client testable unit. Bluetooth audio output for the Digital Masker has almost been completed, and two of the alternative algorithms have been coded for the masking output. One of these algorithms, Delayed Altered Feedback (DAF), now produces the expected output in response to an audio test input. Clarity and integrity of the DAF signal output have also been improved. The Masking Altered Feedback (MAF) algorithm that emulates the behavior of the Edinburgh original on the Digital Masker v1.0 is under development.
Funding for this work provided by The Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research.
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Fair, Timothy; Wood, Elijah; Finkbeiner, Jake T.; Long, Chad M.; Sweeton, Jon R.; and Underwood, Harold R., "Fluency Assistance Device (FAD): Masker Upgrades" (2022). 2022 Collaboratory/Engineering Symposium. 17.