Technology exists to make our lives easier. Whether it’s the extending of our horizons via personal transport, the allowance of the sharing of information via the internet, or the extension of the human lifespan through medical advancement, technology and humanity have become completely inseparable. Unfortunately though, for some people, technological progress has not affected them as much as it has average individual. The disabled make up a proportion of this population, however as technology becomes more sophisticated this deficit is being addressed, with amazing, life-changing results.
Google’s Glass concept device is a perfect example of devices being produced that could potentially have life-altering effects for disabled people. The Glass has already had apps developed for it that can perform real-time object recognition – incredibly useful for the blind or partially-sighted – and the facial recognition abilities of the device could potentially help those with emotional disabilities such as Asperger’s sufferers, describing emotions and aiding in interpersonal communication.
Given the eye-tracking feature that many headset ‘wearables’ come fitted with, those unable to move – people suffering from motor neurone disease, for instance – could surf the net, compose emails and even play games, all simply through the use of their eye. Disabled people could finally enjoy the comforts and entertainments healthy people currently enjoy, playing a few games on Spin Palace whilst travelling or downloading music from iTunes.
Alas, since Google pulled the Glass in for redevelopment, it’s unlikely we’ll see a widespread roll-out of these disabled-friendly products very soon, however there are other ways that the disabled can get the most out of the newest tech products. Mobile device apps such as Augie AAC and Speak for Yourself now allow people to improve their speech abilities and work with speech therapists, whilst voice control systems such as Nuance allow those with learning disabilities to convey their thoughts and understand the written word. Applications such as these could be the key to unlocking the potential of disabled people, changing lives and providing hope.
There’s no technology more life-changing than that of bionics, however. For those disabled by injury, the loss of a limb is often devastating, but thanks to advancements in medical and digital technology, although still in the trail stages of development, doctors can now re-construct nerves, attaching these to muscles which then are attached to a prosthetic hand that can literally be controlled via the mind. Patients then go through a rigorous training regime to get used to their new means of control, but afterwards can enjoy normal movement, boosting their quality of life.
Technology is moving forward at a drastic pace, and soon even the above developments will look old-fashioned and basic. We are truly on the cusp of boosting the quality of live for millions of people, and it’s all thanks to technology!