Technologies for Disabilities

Notable Assistive Technologies Improving Daily Life For People With Disabilities

In recent decades, progress in the inventions of assistive technology has boomed. With one in four people living with a disability, the market for consumer-friendly assistive technology is wide open, and brands are taking advantage of it. In the recent WIPO Technology Trends Report 2021: Assistive Technologies, it is noted that the number of people needing assistive technology is expected to double in the next decade. Similarly, the report found a sizeable boom in emerging assistive technology, with 18 percent of them already in the commercial phase. With the assistive technology industry gaining much-needed steam, there have been some ground-breaking inventions setting the tone for the industry, including the introduction of AI into healthcare, and computer hardware that is more inclusive of the disabled workforce.

Smart Technology Meets At-Home Healthcare With Assistance Robots

The healthcare industry has seen the largest amount of assistive technology innovations recently, as companies and healthcare experts look to expand its use. For those in wheelchairs, robotic arms have been seen as a recent tool to improve their independence, helping them do everyday tasks themselves. The robotic arm is attached to a motorized wheelchair and controlled using the chair’s controls. Since its invention, the technology has also been refined. In late 2020, Stanford University researchers revealed an easier way to control robotic arms – making it much more practicable for those living with disabilities.

Smart Walking Aids Set To Improve Life For The Mobility-Challenged 

Electronic mobility aids like UltraCane have transformed the assistive technology market for the visually impaired or those with impaired muscle function, such as that common with cerebral palsy. According to the Cerebral Palsy Network, children living with cerebral palsy can often face mobility challenges of varying degrees and severity, including difficulties walking. In addition, those with cerebral palsy can experience visual impairment, and this is particularly common in children. Approximately 75 percent of children with cerebral palsy experience visual impairments. UltraCane and other electronic mobility aids aim to reduce those barriers by detecting impediments within 2 or 4 meters, using ‘narrow beam technology.’ It then sends an alert to the person using the vibrations buttons on the side of the cane.

Manits’ Braille Keyboard Tackles The Either-Or Dilemma For The Visually Impaired 

At this year’s CES showcase, APH introduced Mantis Q4, a Bluetooth keyboard that caters to both Braille and traditional typing. This invention aligns with the common theme of inclusivity in the assistive technology industry by combining both forms of keyboards into one instead of asking visually impaired consumers to choose between a traditional and braille keyboard. It also showcases adaptability for more progressive disabilities – those who may experience vision loss later on in life, or families where one person has a disability.

These are just a handful of the assistive technology devices changing the world for those living with disabilities, with much more to come. As the recognition increases for the need for assistive technology, the industry is only expected to ramp up its intensity.