Our History - 30+ Years of Leadership and Innovation in the field of Speech Generating Devices and Software
History of Gus Communication Devices Inc
Gus Communication Devices (Gus) has been a leader in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) speech tablets and speech software for over 30+ years.
Gus Communication Devices is a well established developer of premium AAC speech tablet apps for children and adults with autism, aphasia, Parkinsons, Rett Syndrome, Down syndrome, developmental disabilities, apraxia, stroke, or traumatic brain injury.
Interestingly, the history of this company began with the creation of a robot named "GUS".
GUS - Gord's Ultimate Salesman - Robot (1991)
In 1991, Gordon Harris, a computer consultant at the time, constructed a wooden frame that held a laptop computer for a head. Writing his own software, he then hid a rudimentary speech output box and microphone inside the body of the robot and covered it with a suit jacket and tie. The frame was mounted to a base that hid a remote-controller monster truck which enabled movement at up to 15 mph.
The "GUS Robot" could understand 2 sounds..."yes" and "no". Using those 2 verbal responses, along with responses typed on GUS's keyboard, Gordon wrote a software program that enabled GUS to engage with users in a humorous 2-way "conversation".
The GUS robot garnered immediate attention from the news media, which led producers of the Disney movie "Still Not Quite Human" to give GUS a speaking part in the film. Seeing the commercial potential of the GUS robot, the National Research Council then contacted Gordon and offered federal funding to assist in the design and manufacture of a commercially viable GUS Model 2.
One year later, three GUS robots (Model 2) were completed and put to work for Chrysler and Abbot Pharmaceuticals to interact with attendees at their trade shows across the US and Canada.
(The acronym "GUS" represents "Gord's Ultimate Salesman")
While the GUS robots were working for Chrysler at an Auto Show, the Director of a local special education technology center happened to visit the auto show and interact with the GUS robots. He contacted Gordon and asked him if the voices in the GUS robots could be used to give people with autism, ALS, stroke etc. a way to "speak". Gordon then visited the "Center for Assistive Technology" to see the speech devices that were available for "non-verbal" children and adults. All were proprietary metal boxes the size of a shoe box that looked "industrial", with 10 mechanical switches that were used to record or play a message. None were computer-based and all ranged in price from $8,000 to $10,000.
Seeing an opportunity to greatly improve on the existing "durable medical equipment" speech devices, Mr. Harris spent the next 12 months writing a new Windows/PC software program that would offer a truly state-of-the-art alternative to the existing proprietary and expensive speech devices.
Gus! Multimedia Speech System for Windows (1993)
On October 13th, 1993 Mr. Harris revealed his software creation, the "Gus! Multimedia Speech System for Windows" at the Closing-the-Gap Assistive Technology Conference in Minneapolis, the largest "assistive technology conference" in the world. The response was immediate, and the rest is history.
It was the FIRST “dynamic display” AAC speech software solution compatible with mainstream Windows/PC computers and it became an immediate success. Within two years every AAC device manufacturer would release their own Windows PC based AAC speech software products to challenge the Gus! Multimedia Speech System for Windows.
Since it's inception in 1993, Gus Communication Devices has been continuously creating "assistive technology" software applications including the Gus! Multimedia Speech System, Gus! Talking Keyboard, Gus! Word Prediction, Gus! Dwell Cursor, Gus! Scanning Cursor, Gus! Palm Communicator, Gus! PocketPC Communicator, Gus! Talking Calculator, Gus! Speak Clipboard, Gus! Overboard, Gus! SpeechPRO, ShowMeQR, TalkTablet PRO (iOS), TalkTablet PRO (Android), TalkTablet PRO (Windows) and more.
Speech Tablets (Software and Hardware Packages)
Since 2000, Gus Communication Devices has been successfully offering "Speech Tablets" which are all-in-one bundle packages that include a computer, an AAC Speech App, and a protective carrying case.
Gus! Pocket Communicator (2000)
In 2000 Compaq Computer Company released a handheld computer based on a newly released version of Windows called “Windows PocketPC”. Shortly thereafter, Gus Communication Devices released the Gus! Pocket Communicator and the Gus! Wallet Speaker (below).
Years 2000 to 2012 - Speech tablet models offered by Gus Communication Devices
Each of these devices were equipped with the Gus! Multimedia Speech System software.
The single biggest event to impact the AAC industry was Apple’s 2010 release of the iPad. It sent shock waves throughout the AAC speech device. The iPad and Samsung Galaxy tablets are the perfect combination of size, weight, features, and price. Literally overnight, AAC device users wanted tablet-based systems, and were no longer satisfied with heavy, expensive, medical equipment-looking speech devices, costing thousands of dollars. Schools, clinics and hospitals immediately shifted their budgets to purchase tablets and AAC Speech apps.
TalkTablet PRO AAC/Speech App - Released (2012)
On February 12, 2012, after 2 years in development, TalkTablet PRO for Apple Devices (iOS) was released on the Apple Appstore and soared to become the 4th Highest Grossing Education App in the United States.
On December 20, 2013, after 2 years in development, TalkTablet PRO for Android devices (eg. Samsung) was released on the Google Play Store..
Currently, TalkTablet PRO is available for iOS (Apple), Android, Windows and Google Chromebook devices. In addition, the TalkTablet PRO speech app has its own cloud server which enables users to wirelessly share buttons and pages between tablets, regardless of device type, with anyone in the world…at no cost.
SpeechWatch PRO - Released 2022
In February of 2019, Gus Communication Devices once again raised the bar with the release of the most exciting new product for the non-verbal community since the release of the iPad in 2010.
The SpeechWatch, a revolutionary new AAC product and platform. The world’s first, wearable, stand alone, self contained AAC speech device. The SpeechWatch is also a smartphone with internet browsing, text messaging, GPS, email, access to millions of Android apps, and camera.
Today, Gus Communication Devices is America's largest direct-to-consumer vendor of AAC speech tablets and wearable speech watches.
When questioned about the key to the success of his 30 year old tech company, Mr. Harris responded....
"Without question...customer support and personal connections. The people who reach out to us are trying to help their child, spouse, friend, student, patient or loved one with a serious health issue that has taken away their ability to speak/communicate. We have compassion for their situation and respond as a close friend would. You can't fully understand the broader picture by relying on the speed and convenience of email, texting, and FAQ web pages for customer support. It may be old school, but the best type of customer support technology is a phone call...and kindness." - Gordon Harris, President
Call us today at 833-422-2338 and speak to our amazing customer support people!
Making AAC Speech Tablets Accessible to ALL
Gus Communication Devices' speech tablets are widely available and sold "direct-to-consumer" at guaranteed lowest prices, without requiring a physician prescription, letter of necessity, or completing an assessment approval/denial process. Speech tablets can be ordered from the following companies and typically arrive in 3-5 days. The company also accepts purchase orders.
1. www.gusinc.com - Buy DIRECT
Gus Communication Devices are available at the following online stores...