Mobility News

Gift Of Speech: Dell OEM, Prentke Romich Partner On Life-Changing Solution

Lisa Barry

Steven Mast, the father of a 10-year-old boy with autism, said his son is completely non-verbal and had never been able to communicate his wants, needs or feelings until four years ago when he was given his first tablet. After Prentke Romich Company (PRC) supplied Mast's son with a tablet loaded with Unity, a language learning system from PRC, Mast's son quickly began using the tablet to successfully communicate with his family for the first time.

PRC has been creating and deploying solutions for individuals with disabilities for over 45 years. And on Monday, Dell OEM Solutions confirmed its partnership with PRC to deliver PRC's Accent 1000 solution on Dell Latitude 10 tablets. According to PRC, Accent 1000 allows individuals with a range of speech and physical disabilities to use a series of tiles on the tablet's touch screen in order to relay anything from a simple command to a complex thought or idea. The program matures with the learning level and/or age of the user, bringing more words and phrases as the user becomes more fluent with language and more comfortable with the device.

"The Dell Latitude 10 is an attractive piece of technology. People with disabilities are already different. They are hoping to be as least different as possible," said Dave Moffatt, president and CEO of PRC. Moffat said that the Latitude 10 is thin and lightweight and resembles many of the tablets on the consumer market. Additionally, the Latitude 10 has seen a huge improvement in battery life over PRC's past devices.

[Related: How To Succeed in the Health Care Vertical ]

"The first device was a custom-built device, but it was very heavy and bulky. The batteries were big and didn't last long," Mast said. "We found ourselves having to make a judgment call whether we would bring [my son's] 'words' [tablet] with us when we went somewhere."

However, without the tablet, Mast's son and others like him would be without a voice.

"Just think, if my computer goes down for the day, I'm inconvenienced. But if that device is your voice, if it is the way you interact at school, at work, with family or with friends, if that unit can't last, then it is a real serious problem," Moffatt said.

Joyce Mullen, vice president and general manager of Dell OEM Solutions, said Dell OEM has been partnering with companies for over 13 years, pairing Dell hardware with specialized software a company intends to bring to market.

"We have a lot of experience in this space. In the past it has been treated like a Dell secret, but we are trying to change that now," Mullen said. "We help companies get to market faster without having to use a tremendous amount of capital to get off the ground."

NEXT: A Look at the Pipeline

Dell OEM has partnered with businesses in over 40 verticals including healthcare, retail, industrial and telecommunications. Most recently, Dell OEM has also partnered with Duluth, Ga.-based healthcare technology firm SoloHealth, on a health and wellness kiosk, and Airbus, an aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of European aerospace company EADS, on an electronic flight bag service.

Brian Toomey, senior director of sales and marketing for Arrow Electronics OEM computing solutions, said Arrow Electronics operates on an outsource business model for OEMs and has been involved on the inventory management level of the Dell OEM/PRC partnership.

"All of us are specializing in specific vertical markets. Dell is strong in the healthcare field, industrial computing, data center, and is jumping into the telecom space and will be very successful there too," Toomey said.

Toomey said looking at the year pipeline for solutions created for a very specific group of end users, like the Latitude 10 tablets with Accent 1000, is imperative.

"In healthcare and a lot of other fields, mobility is becoming a big factor in all the areas we are touching these days. Our people are out there dealing with these types of innovative companies. We have an opportunity to help guide our customers as far as what is coming down the pipe the next 5 years," Toomey said.

Dell's Mullen said, "The trick is not selling the first tablet, it's about managing the product life cycle." Managing the product life cycle and assisting customers at looking into the future of innovation helps to ensure specialized products last longer, a common need for more targeted end users, according to Mullen and Toomey.

The Latitude 10 with Accent 1000 could be seen as one product with the added benefit of carrying deeper rewards for companies involved with producing and deploying the solution: knowing the end user will experience giant leaps in his or her quality of life.

"[PRC's] software is something that doesn't seem intuitive at first to a neuro-typical person, but to the mind of an autistic person, it makes sense. My son latched onto it. The whole thing has been a life saver," Mast said.


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