2001 Conference Proceedings

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Nemo EADL: Speak, Control, Relax

Randy Marsden, P.Eng.
President, Madentec Limited
E-mail: randym@madentec.com


Nemo is a portable Electronic Aid for Daily Living (EADL) device that accepts voice commands and turns them into signals that will control your home. Dozens of commands can easily be programmed to control your lights, television, stereo, a speakerphone (optional), doors, fans, and even a motorized hospital bed; all this from a device about the size of a clock radio that mounts quickly to a wheelchair or bedside.

The secret? Infrared. Nemo transmits infrared signals in all directions, just like your TV’s remote control. In fact, you might say it is a remote control on steroids. It will learn any IR command from any other remote, and comes with built-in codes for X10 (lights), hospital beds, and a special high-quality speaker telephone (optional).

This paper explores how to set-up Nemo, how to access and control Nemo, and how to configure its many settings.

Set-up & Mounting

Nemo is powered by an external 12 volt supply. Using an AC wall adapter, or plugging into a wheelchair battery adapter accomplishes this. Nemo also has a built-in battery that allows it to be powered up to 30 minutes on its own, in case of a power outage.

Nemo can be mounted on a table-top, wheelchair, or bedside. The desktop stand, which comes bundled with Nemo, allows Nemo to sit at a comfortable angle on any flat surface.

Nemo is equipped with a standard ¼" mounting nut on its back plate (the same that are built into cameras for mounting on tripods). Using the ¼" nut, Nemo can be mounted to a wheelchair or bedside using the Universal Mounting Arm. This arm is very sturdy, and allows positioning in all directions. Once Nemo is in the correct position, a clamping lever locks the whole assembly firmly into place.

Nemo mounting arm and desktop mount

Figure 1: Nemo mounting arm and desktop mount

Accessing Nemo

There are four ways of controlling Nemo: voice recognition, single switch scanning, joystick, and wheelchair controls.

Voice Recognition

Nemo can be controlled simply by telling it what to do. Built-in voice recognition technology is trained to the user’s voice, and then adapts itself from there. A complete voice training takes about 5 minutes. A built-in microphone can be used, but a high quality lapel microphone is also included for noisy environments.

The voice recognition in Nemo is speaker dependant. This means it is trained only to listen to the user’s voice who originally trained it. This also means that the user’s speech does not have to be clear, in English, or even intelligible. Nemo simply looks for a pattern of sounds that matches its training. Even without speech, users can control Nemo as long as they can reproduce the same sounds consistently.

Single Switch with Audible Scanning

Single switch access can be used as a back-up to voice recognition, or as the primary method for accessing and controlling Nemo. Nemo provides both visual and audible feedback of the selected item.

The user may click any ability switch, which is plugged into the side of Nemo via a standard 3.5mm mono plug. The scan begins, cueing the user of the current menu selection by highlighting it an speaking it out loud.. The user then presses the switch again to select the desired item. Scan speed can be adjusted via the configuration menu on Nemo.


The third way of controlling Nemo is with a standard 4 (or 5) button joystick. An optional cable plugs into the expansion connector located at the bottom of Nemo, and offers a standard 9 pin connector on the other end for the joystick to plug into.

Nemo’s menu system is vertically oriented. In other words, only the joystick’s up and down motions are required to move up and down the menus. Left and right joystick movements can then be used as select buttons (as can the standard ‘fire’ button on the joystick).

Ability joystick and cable connector

Figure 2: Ability joystick and cable connector

Wheelchair Controls

The fourth and final way to control Nemo is with Invacare Mark IV wheelchair controls. The same cable used for the ability joystick can be plugged into the Mark IV’s "ECU" port (optional). The user may then put the wheelchair into ECU mode and use their drive controls to access Nemo’s menu (see diagram).

As with the joystick, a forward wheelchair commands advances the highlighted menu up, reverse advances it down, and left or right selects the currently highlighted menu item.

Nemo to Invacare Mark IV Joystick Interface

Figure 3: Nemo to Invacare Mark IV Joystick Interface

What can be controlled?

Nemo can control anything with an infrared (or remote control) interface, including hundreds of devices. Most notable among these are: lights, telephone, door openers, audio/visual equipment, and hospital beds.


Nemo controls lights using X10 technology. Nemo emits an infrared signal which is received by the X10/IR command center (located in the same room). The command center then sends the X10 signals down the wiring of the house. Special X10 modules (which are connected to the light circuits) receive the X10 signal, and turn the light on or off accordingly. These modules are easily installed into existing house circuits (consult an Electrician).

 X10/IR Command Center, and X10 Module

Figure 4: X10/IR Command Center, and X10 Module

Using this method, up to 16 lights can be controlled in a single room. To control more than 16, simply add another command center in a different room, set to a different house code.

WARNING: never put two command centers in the same room, as they will both receive the IR signal and then conflict with each other as they try to send the X10 signal.


The Nemo Phone is a modified 450 model manufactured by Nortel – a leading manufacturer of telecom equipment. The 450 phone can be completely controlled via a built-in infrared port. Advanced features on the phone include: caller ID, call waiting ID, caller listing, high-quality speaker phone, and an extensive directory.

The Nortel 450 Phone, controllable by Nemo

Figure 5: The Nortel 450 Phone, controllable by Nemo

Emergency Response

Nemo has a built-in emergency call function that is always available to the user, not matter what menu they are in. This call function can be programmed to a control a switch, set off an alarm, or dial a phone number.


Several automatic door openers on the market support commands from an infrared source, such as Nemo. Others can be controlled via X10 signals, or a relay built into Nemo. For access to door openers from outside the home, Nemo can connect to an optional, wireless RF transmitter. In this way, a user of Nemo can command exit and entrance to their home securely.


Nearly all home entertainment equipment now days have infrared remote controls. Nemo can learn any of these signals and then in turn control the equipment. To date, there hasn’t been an infrared signal that we know of that Nemo has not been able to learn.

The infrared training procedure is very simple. Typically, training Nemo to a television’s remote control takes less than a minute.


Madentec manufactures a bed controller that is commanded with X10 signals. These signals are pre-stored in Nemo’s "Bed" menu, so it can in turn control a motorized hospital bed. (Most popular bed models are support – call Madentec to verify compatibility).


The basic rule of thumb is if a device can be controlled with an infrared remote control or a switch, Nemo can control it. Examples of other devices that we have found to be successfully controlled by Nemo are: fans, toys, emergency call buttons, infrared light dimmers, heaters, a remote slide projector, coffee pots, thermostats, and many more.

Customizing Nemo

Many aspects of Nemo can be customized directly on the device (no computer is required). These include changing settings, selecting different languages for operation, and editing the list of equipment controlled.

To invoke the configuration screen, hold down the outer two buttons on the front of Nemo at the same time for 2 seconds. Use those same two buttons for navigating up and down the resulting menu, as well as the middle round button for selecting (or validating).

Nemo Front Button Controls

Figure 6: Nemo Front Button Controls


Nemo Configuration Menu

Figure 7: Nemo Configuration Menu


Nemo has numerous aspects to its operation that can be customized to the user’s situation through a special "settings" menu. Some of these include the display’s contrast, the volume, the time of day, voice recognition parameters, and the microphone sensitivity.


Nemo can control hundreds of different devices. Most circumstances don’t require all possible devices to be controlled. For this reason, Nemo allows the equipment list to be tailored to the end user through the "Equipment" configuration menu. Only those devices that they choose to control will appear in the main menu. This customization is done right on the display of Nemo itself, and does NOT require the use of an external computer.

Voice Training

If the Nemo is to be controlled by voice of a particular user, their voice must be trained to each command. This training can be done for the entire command set, or for a partial list of words. The full training typically takes about 5 minutes.

A major advantage of Nemo is its ability to update its voice training automatically. If the user pronounces a command differently than it was originally recorded, Nemo will first verbally prompt the user to confirm the command and then will update its voice recognition model accordingly.

Because Nemo learns and recognizes based on the sound wave file of the recorded speech, commands can be given in any language (even if the prompt is in English). Another benefit of this is that the words spoken do not have to be clear or intelligible – as long as the same sound can be reproduced with consistency, it can be assigned to Nemo commands.

Infrared Training

Nemo can learn from virtually any infrared source available (we haven’t found a remote control yet that it cannot learn). The training process is also very simple. Nemo provides on-screen prompts as to which remote control button to press, and when. Training from a remote control for a television, for example, takes less than 1 minute.


Nemo is available in a number of different languages, including: English, French, Spanish, German, and Swedish. This means all menu commands and audible prompts are in that language. As mentioned above, any language of the user’s choosing can be used for the voice recognition.

Special Hints and Tricks

Nemo is a very simple, yet flexible device. If there is something you would like to control but can’t see a straight-forward way of doing it with Nemo, chances are you can still do it with a bit of maneuvering in the Nemo menus. Tricks like controlling two different televisions from one TV menu, setting up macros to do more than one thing at a time, and training more than one user’s voice are all possible: they just take a bit of extra knowledge about how the device works.

Contact Madentec directly, or visit our web site at www.madentec.com to discuss your particular specialized needs.


Nemo is a break-through in portable voice-operated home control. It can be easily mounted in almost any environment, is simple to set-up, yet has multiple layers of sophistication for easy customization to any user. Its rich set of access options make it an ideal solution for virtually any person with a disability who requires control of their home or office surroundings.

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