Hummingbird

Access technology for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

The Hummingbird is an access switch that enables communication and interaction like never before. Designed specially for people who are non-verbal with severe physical disabilities, the Hummingbird converts vocal cord vibrations into multiple outputs for environmental control and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) or Bluetooth-enabled digital devices. This little pack has powerful potential. Learn More

We’re on our way to reaching our funding goal!

The Hummingbird needs your help to take flight. We are currently accepting pre-orders for the device to reach our manufacturing goal so we can deliver the Hummingbird to more people around the world.

Pre-order Now!

Activation Type

  • Vocal cord vibration (hum)

Input Modes

  • Direct – control single output
  • Long/Short Mode – control two outputs

Output Capabilities

  • Emulate keyboard key strokes
  • Switch adapted toys and devices – 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) jack

Battery Type: 2 AA batteries

Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB, Switch Output Cables

What’s in the Box:

  • Hummingbird – power pack
  • Hummingbird – silicon neckband with magnetic clasp closure
  • Magnetic clasp extension cable
  • Power pack extension cable
  • 2 switch output cables – 3.5 mm (1/8 inch)
  • Manual

Hummingbird User Manual.pdf

Download Brochure.pdf

 

For more information about access switches and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), please read this article and watch this video.

What is the Hummingbird?
The Hummingbird is a Bluetooth-enabled assistive device that allows people to use humming sounds (i.e. vibration of vocal cords) to control technology and toys. The Hummingbird works like an accessible switch but does not require the user to have control over any limbs. Users can control up to two outputs by producing long and short hums. The Hummingbird can connect to devices through switch cables, a USB port or Bluetooth, allowing for wireless control of a variety of devices using the power of your vocal cords.
Who would benefit from using the Hummingbird?
The Hummingbird is designed to be used by individuals who have limited control of their limbs and have difficulty accessing technology and toys. Users need only be able to vibrate their vocal cords (it doesn’t even have to be an audible hum sound!). The Hummingbird has the ability to control up to two outputs. These can be used together (e.g. for step-scanning) or separately (e.g. for controlling two different devices).
What is Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and what is an AAC device?
Communication devices, systems, strategies and tools that replace or support natural speech are known as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). These tools support a person who has difficulties communicating using speech. An AAC device is a device that helps someone with a speech or language impairment to communicate. AAC devices help users to communicate through a combination of words, sentences, and images that the device then “says out loud.”
What is an access switch?
A switch is an assistive technology primarily used by people with motor impairments to access and control computers, smartphones, electric wheelchairs, smart home appliances and more.
What can the Hummingbird control?
The Hummingbird works in one of three ways. It can function as a
  1. Switch Output: with devices that have switch input jacks, such as audio outputting communication devices (e.g. Big Mac, Step-by-Step, etc.), switch-adapted toys or accessible environmental controls.
  2. Bluetooth Output: with Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as tablets and laptops. This setting is often used to control communication applications or play games.
  3. USB Output: with desktop computers and laptops that have a USB port. This setting is often used to control communication applications or play games.
Do I need a computer or laptop to set up the Hummingbird?
Yes, the initial configuration of the Hummingbird is done via the Hummingbird Setup Wizard, application that you install in your computer or laptop. However, after you complete the configuration process, you can then use it in Bluetooth mode and Switch mode without a computer/laptop.
Can I change my output mode after configuring it for the first time?
Yes, you can change the configurations anytime and any number of times by using the Hummingbird Setup Wizard, on your laptop/computer. You can also save your preferred settings on your computer/laptop as separate files and load it according to your needs.
Does the Hummingbird Setup Wizard work on Windows and MacOS?
Yes, we have both versions of the application available for you to choose from according to your needs.
What do I do if the Hummingbird runs out of power?
The Hummingbird unit uses two AA batteries as its source of power. These can be easily replaced by the user.
Can I use the Hummingbird in a noisy environment?
Yes, absolutely! The Hummingbird works by detecting your vocal cord vibrations, and thus is not affected by ambient noise.
Can I adjust the threshold and length of my hums?
Yes, you can. During the configuration process The Hummingbird Setup Wizard will give you feedback on the hum’s clarity in the form of a moving bar. You can adjust the hum levels according to what’s most comfortable for the user.
When will the product be available?
The product is estimated to be available in Summer 2023, but you can pre-order your Hummingbird by September of 2022.
Will the product be available in the Centralized Equipment Pool (CEP)?
Not yet, but we’re working on it. Sign up to our Newsletter to be notified of the updates regarding the Hummingbird!
When will the product be available in my country?
The product will be launched first in North America, but we are working to make this available around the world. Please check out our website and subscribe to our newsletter to get regular updates on our newest developments.
  1. August 2009: Early Concept Development
    Researchers at Holland Bloorview came up with the idea of using vocal cord vibrations as a switch
  2. February 2012: Improving the Base Design
    Enhanced the usability of the device by adding the dual-output feature
  3. 2013 – 2017: Hardware and Software Development
    Continued research at Holland Bloorview to develop a stable hardware and software platform which can be integrated with other devices
  4. December 2018: Collaboration with Cortex Design
    Began hardware designing with Cortex Designs
  5. September 2019: Commercial Prototype Development
    Cortex Designs created the first version of the Hummingbird prototype
  6. October 2019: Internal Testing with HB Clinicians
    Tested the prototype with clinicians at Holland Bloorview. Design issues and ergonomic shortcomings were identified
  7. November 2020: Usability study 1
    Clients at Holland Bloorview who would benefit from this device were approached and involved in a usability study to understand what customer interaction with the Hummingbird device would look like
  8. January – December 2021: Device Refinement
    Holland Bloorview and Cortex Designs worked on rectifying issues identified from the various testing scenarios and feedback from both clients and clinicians
  9. January – August 2022: Usability Study 2
    A second testing phase was conducted where minor issues will be noted and corrected
  10. September – November 2022: Crowdfunding
    Raise money for the manufacturing run of the Hummingbird
  11. December 2022 – July 2023: Manufacturing
  12. August 2023: Delivery and Fulfillment (Expected)

The links and training materials below will help you understand and configure your Hummingbird device. On this page, you will find an electronic copy of the Hummingbird User Manual, as well as instructional videos walking you through each stage of your Hummingbird setup.

Instruction Manual

Download an electronic copy of the Hummingbird User Manual here:

Hummingbird User Manual.pdf

Software Installers

There are two software installers available. Please choose the one that corresponds to your computer:

Hummingbird Setup Wizard – Windows Installer
Hummingbird Setup Wizard – macOS Installer

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Leslie Mumford at lmumford@hollandbloorview.ca
or 416-425-6220 ext. 6355.