Wearable Tech For Those With Disabilities: Shaping the Future

Wearable Tech For Those With Disabilities

Wearable tech is one of the most exciting aspects of the rapidly growing tech sphere. One particularly powerful application of the technology is for those living with disabilities. More and more gadgets are being geared towards improving the quality of life of this significant sector of society. Data is being recorded, stored and communicated by gadgets to create a richer life experience. The cloud is enabling amazing telehealth breakthroughs, visual learning, and much more. In this article, I will look at some of the breakthroughs that are happening in this fascinating field, from basic tools to incredible feats of human computer interaction.

According to the WHO, around 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. 15% translates to about 785 million people, and of this figure, 2-4% have serious difficulties in functioning in the modern world. The figures are much higher than 40 years ago when WHO published previous estimates. These estimates, which date from the 1970s were only about 10%. The organization explains that the global estimate for disability keeps rising as a result of population ageing and the rapid rate at which chronic diseases are spreading. They also cite improvements in methodologies used to measure disability.

With the rise in the number of disabled people living in a world where technology is evolving at supersonic speed, innovators are inventors are developing some ifty tools. Some have the power to transform lives. Read on to find out more about some of the most significant gadgets out there at the moment.

Visual Impairment

Visual Impairment can mean anything from total blindness to partial sightedness. Where medicine has failed to cure or reverse vision loss, technology is helping the visually impaired function better.

Dot

How about a Braille watch? This watch doesn’t just tell time. It allows the visually impaired user to read emails, text, and fully engage with their smartphone. The device connects to any smartphone via Bluetooth, and then translates the text into Braille. It has six dots on four cells covering the surface of the watch. These dots lower or rise to form four letters in Braille at any given time. As you can imagine. It’s an incredibly functional, affordable tool for staying connected on the go.

The Bradley by Eone

The Bradley is a watch that allows the wearer to tell the time using touch. Two ball bearings replace traditional watch hands, with one ball indicating hours and the other indicating minutes. You could say this watch doesn’t add much value,, since there are devices with screen readers that can tell time, but, sometimes, simplicity is the way forward.

The Finger Reader

This device uses a small camera to scan text and give real-time audio feedback. It allows the visually impaired person to read from traditional books or an electronic device by pointing a finger at the text, one line at a time. It also vibrates at the beginning of a line, the end of a line, when the user is moving to a new line or is veering away from the text baseline.

Orcam

Israeli company, Orcam, developed smart glasses that recognise faces, text, products, money, and lots more. These glasses use an AI that tells the wearer what they are looking at. They have a tiny camera attached to the side and an earpiece to transmit audio. They pick up text from any surface and store the information, allowing them to recognise what they have seen before.

Smart Shoes

Indian company, Ducere Technologies, created Lechal – smart shoes that could replace the white cane. Their aim is to provide intuitive navigation using vibratory feedback to guide the wearer to wherever they need to go. They also come as insoles that allow you to convert any of your shoes to smart shoes. These rechargeable shoes are GPS-enabled and may be used by anyone, including athletes, and travellers who may be visiting a new place.

Radar Systems

The Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) designed a wearable sensor device to enable visually impaired people to sense their environment. Worn as a heart monitor, the device is based on a radar system that allows signals pass through clothing. It senses obstacles in the wearer’s surroundings and conveys that information to the wearer via voice feedback or vibrations. When the device was clinically tested, the majority of the testers felt that the radar improved their ability to perceive their environment, however, they were not impressed with the mechanism of vibratory feedback and distance control. The device is still in development. It definitely has potential.

Vision Enhancers

There are devices that take what little vision a visually impaired person has and tries to make it better. An example is the electronic glasses made by Toronto based company, eSight. ESight’s glasses use high-definition cameras to beam images onto the wearer’s peripheral vision, as some people suffering from vision loss may still have their peripheral vision functioning.
Hearing Impairment

The Sound Shirt

Just as the name suggests, The Sound Shirt allows deaf people to feel the music. A computer system picks up sound from the speakers around them. Connected to this system, the shirt is filled with little motors that vibrate as the music plays.

Vibeat

The Vibeat range of devices allow people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to enjoy music through vibration. Designed by Liron Gino, a graduate of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, the Vibeat collection is a fashionable set that includes a bracelet, neck piece, and pin. Working like headphones, the separate pieces combine to create a system which make vibrations from music tracks. Each individual piece reacts to higher or lower ranges, enabling the wearer feel the music through touch. They connect to any Bluetooth enabled device that can serve as the music source. Within the Vibeat pieces are internal motors that cause them to vibrate at various rates.

The above are only a small sample of the technological advancements that are possible with wearable tech. A great population of people living with disabilities around the world may not yet have access to these technologies, but, at least, we are on the right track.

By James Cummings

David Loo

The Long-term Costs of Data Debt: How Inaccurate, Incomplete, and Outdated Information Can Harm Your Business

The Long-term Costs of Data Debt It’s no secret that many of today’s enterprises are experiencing an extreme state of data overload. With the rapid adoption of new technologies to accommodate pandemic-induced shifts like remote ...
Darach Beirne

Improve the Customer Experience by Connecting IT Silos

Connecting IT Silos Customer experience (CX) is a top priority for businesses across industries. The interactions and experiences customers have with a business throughout their entire journey – from first contact to becoming a happy ...
Marcus Schmidt

What IT Leaders Should Know About Microsoft’s Operator Connect

Microsoft’s Operator Connect Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a new calling service for Microsoft Teams (Teams) users called Operator Connect. IT leaders justifiably want to know how Operator Connect is different from Microsoft’s existing PSTN ...
Derrek Schutman

Implementing Digital Capabilities Successfully to Boost NPS and Maximize Value Realization

Implementing Digital Capabilities Successfully Building robust digital capabilities can deliver huge benefits to Digital Service Providers (DSPs). A recent TMForum survey shows that building digital capabilities (including digitization of customer experience and operations), is the ...
Brian Rue

What’s Holding DevOps Back

What’s Holding DevOps Back And How Developers and Businesses Can Vault Forward to Improve and Succeed Developers spend a lot of valuable time – sometimes after being woken up in the middle of the night ...

CLOUD MONITORING

The CloudTweaks technology lists will include updated resources to leading services from around the globe. Examples include leading IT Monitoring Services, Bootcamps, VPNs, CDNs, Reseller Programs and much more...

  • Opsview

    Opsview

    Opsview is a global privately held IT Systems Management software company whose core product, Opsview Enterprise was released in 2009. The company has offices in the UK and USA, boasting some 35,000 corporate clients. Their prominent clients include Cisco, MIT, Allianz, NewVoiceMedia, Active Network, and University of Surrey.

  • Nagios

    Nagios

    Nagios is one of the leading vendors of IT monitoring and management tools offering cloud monitoring capabilities for AWS, EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and S3 (Simple Storage Service). Their products include infrastructure, server, and network monitoring solutions like Nagios XI, Nagios Log Server, and Nagios Network Analyzer.

  • Datadog

    DataDog

    DataDog is a startup based out of New York which secured $31 Million in series C funding. They are quickly making a name for themselves and have a truly impressive client list with the likes of Adobe, Salesforce, HP, Facebook and many others.

  • Sematext Logo

    Sematext

    Sematext bridges the gap between performance monitoring, real user monitoring, transaction tracing, and logs. Sematext all-in-one monitoring platform gives businesses full-stack visibility by exposing logs, metrics, and traces through a single Cloud or On-Premise solution. Sematext helps smart DevOps teams move faster.