Commercialization of new silicone ability switches the Hong Kong experience

Wing Cheung Eric Tam, Eddie Y M Chiu, John H. Evans

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review


It is well recognized that a dedicated assistive device is usually very costly, partly because of the limited volume of production, but also due to the many expenses that are incurred through marketing, distribution and after sales support. In our society, assistive technology is usually funded through the government welfare allowance and/or private insurance. However, with the limited amount of financial assistance that is provided, persons with disabilities may still have financial difficulty purchasing suitable assistive devices that are available in the commercial market. As a result, many persons with disabilities are still being deprived of some basic assistance to cope with needs such as communication, mobility and independent living. In an attempt to improve this situation locally, a pilot project was initiated to establish an industrial link, aimed at producing a number of ability switches. An issue of major concern in any product commercialization is the funding. Our strategy was to apply for 'seed-money' through charitable organizations, and to form a partnership with the manufacturer. In order to assure our manufacturer partner of the acceptable market size, and to identify the types of ability switch that are mostly required by the end-users, a survey was conducted at the beginning of the project. The pad, the touch and the pinch type of switches were designed based on the outcome of this market survey. Silicone rubber was chosen for use in production because of the flexibility in the associated manufacturing process, which would help reduce the cost of manufacture. This is particularly important for this project where production volume has to be matched with limited available budget. Experience learned from this pilot project is presented including the current obstacles being encountered in sales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalTechnology and Disability
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 1997


  • Ability switch
  • Assistive device
  • Commercialization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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