For the impaired, no matter their disability, any piece of kit that can help improve their quality of life can only be seen as a good thing. That being said, there are various tech inventions that can allow people with disabilities to communicate effectively and overall add more safety in their lives, and some can even be revolutionary for their lives.
What is assistive technology for visually impaired?
As the name suggests, this is a kind of technology that helps assist or help someone who has trouble with their vision. It can include things like braille, navigation aids like canes or more high-tech props to help the visually impaired have a degree of independence.
"Assistive technology: items designed specifically to help people with vision loss or other disabilities, including everything from screen readers for blind individuals or screen magnifiers for low-vision computer users, video magnifiers and other devices for reading and writing with low vision, to braille watches," - The American Foundation for the Blind.
What are some examples of assistive technology?
We have already touched on some examples above, but other examples include, but are not limited to (courtesy of NIH): -
- Mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, crutches, prosthetic devices, and orthotic devices.
- Hearing aids to help people hear or hear more clearly.
- Cognitive aids, including computer or electrical assistive devices, to help people with memory, attention, or other challenges in their thinking skills.
- Computer software and hardware, such as voice recognition programs, screen readers, and screen enlargement applications, to help people with mobility and sensory impairments use computers and mobile devices.
- Tools such as automatic page-turners, book holders and adapted pencil grips to help learners with disabilities participate in educational activities.
- Closed captioning to allow people with hearing problems to watch movies, television programs, and other digital media.
- Physical modifications in the built environment, including ramps, grab bars, and wider doorways to enable access to buildings, businesses, and workplaces.
- Lightweight, high-performance mobile devices that enable persons with disabilities to play sports and be physically active.
- Adaptive switches and utensils to allow those with limited motor skills to eat, play games, and accomplish other activities.
- Devices and features of devices to help perform tasks such as cooking, dressing, and grooming; specialized handles and grips, devices that extend reach, and lights on telephones and doorbells are a few examples.
What are some examples of great tech for the impaired?
So, without further ado, here are 7 examples of technology that have been specially designed to help the impaired. Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive and in no particular order.
1. This cool wristwatch is designed for the visually impaired
How, as a visually impaired person, could you ever hope to read the time on a regular wristwatch? Well, that's where this cool piece of tech could be the solution they've been waiting for.
The Dot Watch is a revolutionary piece of kit that is specially designed to provide the blind with means of reading the time without any assistance. Its face has an innovative braille pin system that can provide information on the time and date down to the second.
It also comes with an alarm clock, timer, and stopwatch and can also provide push notifications from a smartphone. The watch can also display text messages too.
The Dot Watch might be a gamechanger for the visually impaired.
2. Meet the world's first non-invasive brain-to-brain interface
Researchers at Cornell University are currently working on a means of connecting two human brains together without invasive surgery or implants. Called BrainNet, it utilizes electroencephalography (EEG) to record brain signals and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to deliver information to the brain.
This system allows humans to collaborate and solve tasks together through nothing more than the power of thought. It has been tested by volunteers to perform some basic tasks like rotating a block in a Tetris-like game before being dropped into place.
Once fully developed, this could be revolutionary for anyone with severe disabilities that leave their brains perfectly functional.
3. WeWalk is another great piece of tech for the blind
WeWalk is yet another innovative piece of tech for the visually impaired. Of the estimated 250 million visually impaired individuals around the world, a fifth, or so, are heavily reliant on a cane to get navigate the world safely.
While this is a very simple solution, it has some inherent problems. For example, it cannot easily be used to identify obstacles at chest height and above.
WeWalk has been designed to help overcome this shortfalling, and is also "smart." This next-generation walking cane contains ultrasonic sensors that warn of impending danger by vibrating.
It can also pair with a user's smartphone further boosting its capabilities.
4. This Google app is great for the hard of hearing
For anyone who has trouble hearing, or is completely deaf, communication with other people can be labored. This is especially true if you want to converse with someone who doesn't know sign language.
To help mitigate this, some new features came packed with the Android 9 Pie and Pixel Phones, that could be a game-changer for the hard of hearing.
These features include a live-transcription feature that turns speech into text in real-time. It also comes with a customizable sound amplifier that helps those who are not completely deaf use their phones as a high-tech hearing aid.
It comes in 70 languages and promises to be a fantastic aid for the hard of hearing.
5. Check out this sign-language translation tech
Further to 4 above, this great piece of tech might be even more useful for the hard of hearing. Called KinTrans Hands, it can actually translate sign language into voice or text and vice versa.
The device comes with a 3D camera and microphone and has been shown to be around 98% accurate in its translations. It achieves this through the use of its own specially designed AI that can actually learn and improve over time.
This might just be the greatest aid someone hard of hearing could ever be given.
6. This new bionic leg might be the future for amputees
Scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have created a bionic leg that merges with its user. This could be a huge development for amputees.
"Scientists have helped three amputees merge with their bionic prosthetic legs as they climb over various obstacles without having to look. The amputees report using and feeling their bionic leg as part of their own body, thanks to sensory feedback from the prosthetic leg that is delivered to nerves in the leg's stump." - Science Daily.
7. This new prosthetic arm can actually "feel"
A group of researchers at the University of Utah have created a prosthetic arm that can sense touch and be moved through thought. Once fully developed, this could be the prosthetic that amputees have been waiting for.
"Biomedical engineers are helping develop a prosthetic arm for amputees that can move with the person's thoughts and feel the sensation of touch via an array of electrodes implanted in the muscles of the patient." - Science Daily.