Button pushers, grabbers, laser pointers, and other DIY hands-free projects

Home automation and accessible technology for quadriplegics often has the same issue: covering the last meter. that is, completing that last step which is easy to do for a human with functional hands, but tricky for normal automation approaches.

A friend sent me the following YouTube channel link, which is from a doctor whose hobby is creating DIY projects that help substitute for a lack of hand function. These are intended to be inexpensive, there’s a lot of rubber bands and duct tape, most of these are not motorized in any way, but looking at them I can see them very easily added to some simple automated actuators to build some very cool home automation projects even for those who don’t have any physical disabilities.

Thought the maker type folks in this community would have fun and might get some inspiration from these.

@ogiewon @johnconstantelo @jody.albritton @CowbellMaster


Just in case anybody comes to this thread looking for an off-the-shelf solution, there is an automated button pusher from Switchbot which has a manufacturer-offered smartthings integration and works quite well. I’ve written about them before. But at $30 per button pusher plus the required mini hub it would be more expensive than most of the DIY approaches. As always, choice is good. :sunglasses:

2020 Switchbot Review ( robot button pusher), integration through IFTTT or new V3 app

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This is really nice to see. Also if switchbot was zigbee instead of Bluetooth + hub, would be much better.

I don’t really understand why they don’t make a zigbee version.

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Maybe someday if they decide the echo Zigbee hub market is big enough. :sunglasses:


or maybe thread :slight_smile:

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That is true…

Btw does anyone else suspect that smartthings is about to make a big reveal at some point with the new version of the device handlers whichever that will be and throw chip (threat and Bluetooth) into the platform?

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Somebody Has to make a hub that works with smartthings and Handles Thread in order for that to work. It’s not impossible, I haven’t checked to see if the Aeotec hub has a second 2.4 GHz radio in it or not. But since smartthings is no longer in the hardware business, they can’t do it on their own.

Anyway, as interesting as all of this conversation is, it’s very far off topic for what this thread is intended to be. So I suggest you start a new topic to discuss future protocols with smartthings and we can take that conversation there. :sunglasses:

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They are working on their PC based application at the moment so I suspect that will be their next release.

@JDRoberts, have you heard about FingerBot?

I’m aware of it. The original model is the one you can buy today, and it just doesn’t have enough force for me, it’s about 1 kg and many buttons require 1.5. They have a new model which they are just running a kickstarter campaign for which is supposed to go up to the 1.5, but it’s not shipping yet.

I was also concerned because it’s only using Bluetooth 4.2, which tends to have range and stability problems.

Most of the reviews of the fingerbot that I have seen say that the Switchbot is a little better, although I do like the physical design of the fingerbot.

I’m going to keep an eye on it and see how the reviews look for the next generation once it’s actually shipping. :sunglasses:

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