Adaptive technology may sound like something new, but the basic principle is not. Some examples of this technology include things like the walking stick/cane, which are as old as dust, while other, newer examples of this technology might seem like they are from a sci-fi movie.
However simple or complex, new or old, these tools are all a testament to the strength of the human spirit and our determination to move forward, no matter what. Here are some examples of hi-tech devices and emerging technologies that can assist persons with disabilities in living a more fulfilling life.
This system with a futuristic name is really built on a simple concept - giving the power of speech back to those who, due to various unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, lost it. Individuals with Cerebral Palsy, some version of paralysis, or people who have suffered stroke, now have the ability to engage in verbal communication, thanks to the DynaVox EyeMax System. The system is built using an advanced eye-tracking technology that enables users to interact using a special keyboard 39f2 , making it possible to enter words and phrases, while the device handles the rest. With a built-in text-to-speech technology, these persons are again given a voice.
It seems that Google is really dedicated to changing the world! One of the more interesting projects to come out of their lab is a driverless car, which has great potential in assistive technology. Project leader and co-inventor of Google Street View, Sebastian Thrun and his team are working on a vehicle that will apparently drive itself, thanks to a combination of information gathered from Google Street View. It is envisioned that the car will access data directly from Google Street View and feed it through to the cars’ numerous sensors via mounted/installed cameras on the car.
Another similar project comes from engineer Dennis Hong, who is developing a car that will be drivable by the vision impaired/blind. Yes, you read that right! The technology is designed to work by combining multiple computer systems, sensors, and cameras to scan the space around the vehicle and give alternate forms of sensory input, such as sound and vibration. One might be able to appreciate that this can sound somewhat unsafe, but this technology holds promise and shouldn’t be criticized and tossed out so quickly. With stringent and comprehensive testing, this new evolution could make a significant impact on the way we drive in the future, and open up new possibilities and present new empowering opportunities to the wider community.
If you are not familiar with Dean Kamen (New Hampshire inventor), please allow us to make a slight introduction into his works and vision. Most people will recognize his name as the guy who invented the Segway. What you may not be aware of, is that he has worked on and invented many other incredible technologies. Among his great inventions has got to be the iBot-- a self-balancing wheelchair with a built-in ability to climb stairs. Think of it as the ATV of wheelchairs. Utilizing self-balancing technology, similar to that in the Segway, the iBot aims to give the freedom to wheelchair-bound individuals to navigate any terrain.
What’s even better is, that Dean and his group of researchers took it one step further. Funded on a grant from DARPA, Dean they've undertaken to create a highly sophisticated prosthetic arm for our injured veterans. The results blew everyone’s mind. They managed to develop a lightweight prosthetic arm with incredible precision and control. So incredible, in fact, that it can peel a grape. The arm can be customized with controls and modular components, to tailor it to the individual.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, a person with a disability no longer has to wonder about the view from that hill over there. Flying drones are becoming more and more accessible, and might become a household item in the near future. Henry Evans, who was left a quadriplegic and mute after a stroke-like illness back in 2003, is a pioneer in using and creating adaptive robotics. Mr. Evans works with Robots for Humanity, to help other disabled individuals like him in navigating the world. It turns out technology combined with human determination can be a powerful creative force.
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