The Miniguide is not waterproof, that is, if you drop the aid into a deep puddle then water will get inside the case. The new hard case unit could be called splash proof, that is, it should be able to tolerate some raindrops on the outside. If you suspect water has got inside the case, it is important to dry the aid out so things don't start corroding. Remove the battery and dry with warm air if possible. Leave it to dry, with the case open, for a number of hours or overnight.
The Miniguide uses the latest surface mount components. Most components are placed by a special pick and place robot directly onto the printed circuit board. The components are then soldered automatically by a machine similar to a pizza oven. This automation removes the usual variations and errors caused by human soldering. The surface mount components can also be placed very close together without any need for connection wires - this removes the problems of solder joint fatigue. Most of the components are then sealed under a layer of glue. If the Miniguide is kept dry and treated with respect then it should give many years of reliable service.
The Miniguide is very quiet in terms electromagnetic interference. It has been tested to ensure that it complies with emission standards. As mentioned above, the Miniguide uses surface mount technology. This helps in keeping any emmissions to a minimum, it also helps make the aid more immune to interference sources such as mobile phones.
The Miniguide is a very low powered device. The ultrasound energy is tiny. It is unlikely that the ultrasound output would cause any damage.
Good question. Some people have been using a tactile Miniguide everyday for years and the vibration unit is still going fine. It has been estimated that with average use the vibration unit should last between five or more years. It all depends on how often the aid is used. We have made the vibration unit easily replaceable so that if one fails early then it is not a hassle to get it replaced.
The Miniguide is much smaller and lighter. The Miniguide gives much better battery life, the battery in the Miniguide will last for months, whereas the Mowat usually required recharging once a week. The Miniguide is very sensitive and picks up small objects very reliably. The Mowat often had difficulty picking up small and thin objects even when they were fairly close. The Miniguide will detect objects to within a centimetre of the sensors. The Mowat does have a narrower width beam which can make locating doorways easier.
The gap finding modes do not narrow the beam. These modes lower the sensitivity of the aid at certain distances, this sometimes gives the impression that the beam has been narrowed. Gaps are sometimes hard to locate with the Miniguide because it detects the faint reflections from either side of the gap or doorway. Reducing the sensitivity means that these faint reflections are ignored and the gap shows up better.
It's a bit hard to explain, but basically its done by the software in the aid. The Miniguide sends out a pulse of ultrasound and then waits and listens for the echoes bounced off objects. The echoes from nearby objects will come back sooner than the echoes from more distant objects. So the software can control the sensitivity for a given distance by controlling how intently it "listens" for echoes as time goes by.
We have received zero funding. The entire design has been self-funded.
The Miniguide is made in Adelaide Australia. Adelaide is a small city nestled between hills and the coast. Adelaide is renowned for for its fantastic parklands. Other nice things about Adelaide are its beaches, the nearby hills, wineries and festivals. If you would like to know more about Adelaide, please consider visiting the following web sites: www.sacentral.sa.gov.au and www.adelaidecitycouncil.com