NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 20, 2013

Toye's toy

Tailor-made video control puts NHS post-graduate in the game

He used to game on a wing and a prayer. Now he’s got total control.

Newburyport High School post-graduate student Cameron Toye has never had the full use of his right side. Having suffered a stroke in utero, Toye wears a hand brace daily and often has to get around either on crutches or in a wheelchair.

All this provides plenty of daily challenges for Toye, but perhaps the one vexing him the most was the crimp it put on his Nintendo game.

Now, thanks to his industrial design class, the only challenge he faces in that department is getting Mario from one end of the screen to the other with a joystick tailor-made for him.

The contraption combines a joystick for movement with two pressure pads at his feet to allow for jumps in his playing of video games.

Toye said the idea for the joystick just “popped up” one day. He talked it over with his technology teacher, Sarah Leadbeater, and the class started working on it the next day.

The class’ deconstruction projects teach students about circuits and electricity by taking apart and customizing old Nintendo controllers. The goal is to show the students just how simple modern technology can be.

“We are terrified of technology,” Leadbeater said. “And if something breaks, we in this society throw it away and get a new one. But if you take those controllers apart, they are really, really simple. I wanted to demystify the technology, so it’s not this scary thing that no one understands.”

Enter Toye’s class partner, Andreas Asprogiannis, who has a talent for and interest in electrical engineering.

According to Asprogiannis, the task was straightforward: find a way to give Toye a third hand.

“I was kind of excited when I first heard about it,” Asprogiannis said. “It was a challenge and I’m a very competitive person, so I just got up and did it. It really pushed me forward. It was a good challenge for me and very interesting for both of us.”

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