The Hook+ switch interface has been discontinued…
Sharing for those who might have been in the process of recommending a Hook+ switch interface. I reached out to AbleNet Inc. on Facebook Messenger to ask if an updated version is in the works since the current model was discontinued and received the following reply: Unfortunately we do not have a new version of Hook+. We developed Hook+ under the MFI guidelines of Apple. MFI allowed us to do cool things like not need a battery, have it auto-configure Switch Control the first time Hook+ was used with a device, and use the Lightning connector. However, being part of MFI also had its downside. We were at the mercy of Apple for approval and these approval cycles typically took about 12-months to complete. What we found is that every 2- to 3-years, Apple would update a component that we were using, which forced us to go through an approval cycle with Apple as well as go through all of our global regulatory tests again. These redevelopment cycles became a burden on the product and we had to make a hard decision and sunset Hook+ about 6-months ago.
It does look like Apple is slowly moving to supporting USB C across all of their iPads and iPhones. This may open up the opportunity for a product like Hitch to receive an update in the future so that it uses USB C and could potentially be used with iPad and iPhone. Updates to Hitch is not a project that we’ve started, but one that has been on my mind for a while as more and more devices move to USB C.
Some users are having connectivity issues with the Blue2 Bluetooth Switch Interface
Sharing for those who are exploring using the Blue2 switch interface. I heard from two members in the GoTalk Now AAC & GoVisual Scene Apps – Ideas and Sharing Facebook group today that they are having connectivity reliability issues with it. I haven’t had any issues with my Blue2 but reached out to AbleNet Inc. to find out more info. Here is a screenshot of the reply that I received.
For those using a screen reader here is the text contained in the screenshots above:
Tuesday, 6/28/22, 6:59am CDT
Hi – I’m an AAC SLP and have frequently recommended your Blue2 switch interface as a good option for those needing switch scanning access in the GoTalk Now AAC app. But a member in my GoTalk Now AAC & GoVisual Visual Scene Apps – Ideas and Sharing Facebook Group: https://bit.ly/GoTalkNowAACappGroup just shared the following info: “OMazing Kids the Blue2 is having major connectivity challenges and I would not recommend it at this time. I’ve had to replace 4 this past year (all covered under warranty). They each stopped connecting. Hopefully AbleNet figures out the issue soon but I wouldn’t want anyone who needs it for communication stuck in this situation.” What is the status of this issue being resolved?
Also, I noticed that the Hook+ is no longer available and I had been recommending it as a good option for AAC apps that don’t have their own built in switch scanning settings. Is a new version of that in the works?
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting
Ablenet (9:54am CDT):
Hello Angela, thank you for reaching out. We have thousands of users globally who are successfully using Blue2 every day. There are a small number of users who have experienced a bug where Blue2 stops pairing with their device. This bug only impacts a small number of users who are using the latest release of Blue2 (the version that includes left and right mouse clicks). We have a plan in place to immediately ship those affected a new Blue2 as soon as we learn they are experiencing the bug.
We have been actively pursuing a solution to the bug. However, the one challenge we have run into is that we have been unable to replicate the bug in a controlled setting to help understand what the root cause of the bug is.
Interesting. Do you think it’s a hardware issue within the Blue2 itself or a software issue related to that particular AAC app or maybe the version of iOS on that device?
We’ve gone down a lot of different paths trying to figure it out, but it has occurred on different operating systems and different devices. What we do know is that as soon as we re-install the firmware the bug goes away. Users have then gone weeks and months before experiencing it again.
Gotcha. How odd. I have a Blue2 and haven’t had any issues but I’ve had it for a couple of years. When was the latest version of the Blue2 released?
I believe we started shipping the latest 4th Generation Blue2 around November 7, 2019
Interesting. I just checked. That’s the one that I have. Thankfully I haven’t had any issues with mine. If someone encounters this issue what is the best way for them to report the issue and get a new one shipped to them?
One of our guiding principles is new products, better products and recently we kicked off a development project that focuses on a new model of Blue2 that will be released mid-next year. We are revisiting this product and the model will receive a complete redesign.
Cool! I’d be glad to help do product testing when you get to that point
I have already tried the AeroSwitch by PRC-Saltillo. They sent me one to try for a month. It’s the only option for using the in-app switch scanning settings in that company’s AAC apps. Info about my experiences with that switch interface can be found in my Feature Matching resources. A brief video: https://youtu.be/hyJj4_pcIy0. Additional videos are included in the Feature Matching resources.
This evening I messaged Inclusive Technology to see if I can borrow an iSwitch + Smoothie Switch & the Cosmos Switch in order to try them out in all of the AAC apps. I’ll keep you posted. Since the Blue2 that I have isn’t having any issues I really can’t justify investing in purchasing other switch interfaces right now.
I’d love to hear what wired and wireless Bluetooth switch interfaces others are using and whether they are reliable and durable. Feel free to message me via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting
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