Monday, November 29, 2010

iDevices and Switch Control

Hardware Based Options
There are three hardware-based options of which I’m aware for accessing the music playing functions an an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, as well as customisable software programs. These won’t help you to use the programs on an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad - just to play the music, audiobooks and podcasts you’ve already put onto the device.
Each option has different features, and of course different things work for different people so I’ll let you know as many features as I have knowledge of, and we can go from there:

SpaceKraft’s iPod Switcher

This is the simplest controller, with only three buttons. It has a desktop docking unit where the iPod sits plus a wireless controller unit with the three buttons.
The iPod Switcher with a traditional type iPod
The iPod Switcher with a traditional type iPod
Functions it controls: Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track.
Switch access: This unit does not allow your own switches to be plugged in, only the unit’s own built-in buttons can be used.
Compatibility: The sales page just says “iPod”. There’s no clear indication of which iPods it will operate with - it looks like the dock part would only fit specific sizes of iPods.
Wireless controller size: 24cm wide, 19cm deep, 7cm tall.
Button size: Unspecified.
Cost: £295 (No USA vendor has been found)
Notes: The switcher control box is battery powered. The page says “Operates on 240v” which implies the dock section needs to be plugged in to operate, however.

RJ Cooper’s BIG iPod Remote

RJ's BIG iPod Remote being used by an elderly womanFive-button remote with large brightly coloured buttons on the top, separate switches can also be plugged in.
RJ's BIG iPod Remote being used by an elderly woman
Functions it controls: Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, Volume up, Volume down.
Switch access: The unit’s own built-in buttons can be used or any/all of these buttons can be replaced by separate switches.
Compatibility: It should fit any iPod/iPhone/iPad except the iPod Shuffle.
Wireless controller size: 8″ wide x 5″ deep x 3″ tall.
Button size: The large green button is 1-3/4″ and the smaller buttons are 1-1/4″.
Cost: US$119 via RJ Cooper

Technical Solutions’ iScanMP3 (formerly SwitchPod)

Single switch visual/auditory scanning system, including adjustable scan speed.
The iScan MP3 plugged into a traditional style iPod
The iScan MP3 plugged into a traditional style iPod
Functions it controls: Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, Volume up, Volume down, Power on/off.
Switch access: Plug in any standard switch.
Compatibility: It should fit any iPod/iPhone/iPad except the iPod Shuffle.
Cost: AU$190 via Technical Solutions; US$289.95 via Enabling Devices

RJ Cooper iPad Switch and Switch Interface
This bluetooth switch is designed to be used in conjunction with app designed for switch use.  Currently that includes the Conley Solutions's Tap Speak Choices AAC app.  There is information out there that most AAC apps will be adding switch support.
Functions it controls:  any which are supported in the app, will not run the iPod/iPad
Compatibility: It should work with any iPod or iPad as long as supporting apps are used
Cost: US$99 for the Switch Interface and US$149 for iPad Cordless Super-Switch

Other Options

There are some ‘easy music controller’ programs for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad which present an interface that’s easier to operate for those with limited dexterity. They generally operate by gestures, where a single tap gesture anywhere on the screen will operate either the ‘pause/play’ function or the ‘next song’ function. Some are configurable so that you can define what gestures mean what.
These are some cheap options I recommend:
Gesture Player
This is the one I use myself to listen to my audio books. Specially cool things about it:
  • Compatible with both iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch. Most seem to be iPhone/iPod Touch only.
  • Clearly displays the function you have activated, so you know what’s happening.
  • You can pick a default playlist to use. Most seem to only have the option to use the full library.
  • Can adjust the sensitivity of the gesture recogniser, more sensitive requires the gestures to be more accurate before they’re recognised.
About the only thing that isn’t perfect about this one is there’s no ability to configure which gesture does what!
Swiper Music Player
Swiper has slightly different controls, so a single tap to the screen moves to the next track and a long tap (press-and-hold) is needed to operate the play/pause function. It also displays the music’s cover art so you can see pictorially what’s playing. Swiper is for the iPhone/iPod Touch only, there’s no iPad native version.
LeechTunes allows some controls to be customised, but basic controls seem fixed, including a single tap operating the play/pause function. There are a bunch of different “skins” to change the appearance and a software function to lock the program in either portrait or landscape mode. It also has iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad versions.


  1. Great post! Thank you so much. I can't wait until RJ's iPad switch is available. This is going to be phenomenal for my daughter and for other individuals with special needs.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post. I am a student at Illinois State University and I just learned about switches in my assistive technology class. It is great to see switches being used with the newest technology available like IPods and IPads


Comments and respectful discussion are welcome and encouraged! No advertisements or spamming.

Contact Me at:

Contact Me at:

Visit our advertisers:

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation, LLC Try Nick Jr. Boost FREE for 7 Days ... Label the things you love !! Build-A-Bear HearthSong - Toys Outlet