COD Brothers Create Visual Timer to Help Students With Disabilities Transition Between Activities

By: Angela Mennecke

The Lumino Visual Timer

A College of DuPage student and his brother developed an innovative learning device for elementary kids and students with disabilities who struggle with classroom transitions.

The Lumino Visual Timer was created by Parker and Keaton Duwelius of Naperville and is designed to display the passage of time through visual and vibration feedback.

Similar in size and shape to a hockey puck, the Lumino works like a normal timer; you give it an amount of time, and it will count down and alert you when the time is up. However, lights around the edge of the device tick down incrementally and gradually change from green to red.

“Unlike other products on the market, our timer is a lot more sensory-friendly and engaging,” Keaton Duwelius said. “We have found that when used in a classroom setting, it leads to much smoother transitions for students of all ages.”

Teachers often resort to countdown timers that are noisy and don’t give kids a way to anticipate the coming change. All this contributes to students’ stress levels and can lead to negative classroom behaviors, Parker Duwelius said.

“For young children and many individuals with disabilities who have not yet developed the ability to read letters and numbers, the numerals on digital and analog clocks make it extremely difficult to anticipate transitions and time constraints,” he said. “My brother and I noticed that this adds anxiety to the lives of students in our special education classrooms, especially when the alarm sounds.”

As instructors at Krejci Academy, a private, therapeutic school for children with disabilities, the brothers said the toughest time of day for their students was when the class would switch activities. That sparked the idea to develop the Lumino.

What the brothers found through testing was that students were able to independently prepare for transitions and better control their emotions.

While Parker Duwelius has vast experience and a strong passion for working with children with disabilities, Keaton’s interest is in technology.

“I’m a DIY guy who enjoys building circuits and tinkering with new technology and electronics,” he said. “My brother’s passion for helping students with disabilities and my passion for product design and engineering coupled together nicely to make this possible.” 

Creating the Lumino didn’t come without its struggles. After several prototypes failed to yield results, the brothers went back to the drawing board several times, taking advice along the way from teachers who were using different iterations of the timer in their classrooms.

“We originally had a different adaptive technology product in mind, but after failing to create a prototype, we changed our plans and created the Lumino,” Keaton Duwelius said. “We built it in a few days, but we have spent countless hours developing, testing and refining the timer to be what we think is now the perfect product.”

Keaton Duwelius is taking general education classes at COD while working full-time as a paraprofessional at Krejci. Parker Duwelius received his associate degree from COD in 2016 and works as a special education instructor at Krejci, while also student teaching in Plainfield.

Without COD’s flexible class schedules, the brothers said the Lumino would have never been developed.

“If I wasn’t able to take night classes, I wouldn’t have been able to be as hands-on with development,” Keaton Duwelius said. “Same with my brother. He worked full-time while taking classes at COD which allowed him to pursue his education while also fulfilling his passion for working with children with disabilities.”

Through word of mouth, teachers are finding out about the success of the timer as a classroom management tool, and the brothers are having trouble keeping up with the demand. They hope to bring their concept to market and are raising the money they need to manufacture their first batch.

Once they get the Lumino to market, they want to create more adaptive technology to use in the classroom through their company, Abilio Learning.

“I’m coupling my passion for computer science and electronics with a new passion for helping students with disabilities,” Keaton Duwelius said.

Keaton Duwelius plans to take more classes at COD related to engineering, manufacturing, business and special education. His advice to COD students is simple.

“Students at COD should know that nothing is impossible,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but it’s true. Two years ago, I would have never pictured myself doing this, but when you find a passion you have to run with it.”