Assistive Technology Making Life Easier

By  Deepshikha Shukla

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Technology today may not be able to help the blind see or the speech-impaired speak but it can surely convey their message and provide help when needed. Many companies around the world are developing products and technologies to help persons with disabilities to complete everyday tasks. A few of them are listed below.

For visual impairments

Lechal footwear

These Bluetooth-enabled shoes give gentle vibrations at the feet, guiding the wearer invisibly but intuitively. They give detailed route guidance at every turn and even work offline, which means the wearer can wander off with no Internet or data connectivity.

Lechal shoes
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Lechal is simple to use. Just connect pods to the Lechal app, set a destination and let the footwear guide the way. Users can tag locations, set destinations and get real-time data on landmarks all around. They can also share their location with other users. Lechal shoes have a very good battery backup of up to 15 days on a single charge. These can be purchased from Amazon.

 

Eone Bradley watch

Eone Bradley
Eone Bradley

This innovative wristwatch tells time not just by sight but touch also. It features raised markers and two ball bearings that travel around the watch face in separate tracks: one for minutes and the other for hours. The watch can be bought online from Amazon.

Dot smartwatch

This watch lets the users get notifications and messages, listen to music, easily locate their phone, check calls and set alarms. Its battery lasts up to one week on a single charge. The watch has a large circular face with a moving keyboard that relays braille text in real time through textural dots.

Connect the watch to a smartphone application called the Dot Watch app to receive information such as road navigation, weather notifications, calls and text messages, as well as social media alerts. Users can flip between messages by tapping the face of the watch or manually by using the slide buttons and dial.

Dot smartwatch
Dot smartwatch

The watch can be personalised with straps of different colours and materials.

Braille ebook reader Bittab

Braille ebook reader
Braille ebook reader (Courtesy: www.tuvie.com)

It is a multi-line braille reading and writing device that delivers real-time content to the visually impaired via touch navigation. It displays one whole page of braille text at once.

Be My Eyes app

In times of need, the visually impaired can seek sighted volunteers’ help by connecting with them on a video call over the Be My Eyes app. Through the direct video call, they can seek help to check expiry dates, distinguish colours, read instructions or navigate new surroundings. The app can be installed from Google Play Store.

For hearing impairments

UNI

This two-way communication tool for the deaf detects finger and hand gestures with its specialised camera algorithm, then converts these into text in a very short time to provide the meaning of sign language. It also enables users to create their own sign language with its sign builder, so it is easy to add custom language to the dictionaries. It is a subscription-based app with two versions: one requires a data connection and the other doesn’t.

For other disabilities

Foot mouse

It doesn’t require use of hands but works like a hand-operated mouse with features like left/right click, up/down and adjustable mouse cursor. It’s easy to use and supports Bluetooth. The mouse is available for PCs, Macs and tablets. It can be purchased from Amazon.

Vega foot mouse (Courtesy: www.amazon.in)

 

Boomerth foot mouse
Boomerth foot mouse

Tobii Dynavox i-12+

Speech generation devices combined with eye tracking and eye control features enable various communication opportunities for individuals with special needs. The camera tracks users’ eye movements, allowing them to use the device simply by blinking or gazing.

Tobii Dynavox i-12+
Tobii Dynavox i-12+

Tobii Dynavox i-12+, part of the I-Series+ devices, is capable of speech generation and can be controlled via touch, switches or gaze interaction via an optical built-in eye tracker. It allows a more independent and integrated life for people suffering from stroke/aphasia, cerebral palsy, Rett syndrome or ALS. Different software on it let users easily communicate through speech, e-mail, text messaging, chat, Skype or phone calls using the most advanced Bluetooth technology. Users can also play games, take and share photos, access regular computer applications and control the environment around them.

Users can change batteries without disrupting usage or losing data. One battery lasts nine hours of constant use. The device is built to last, with a fast, solid-state hard drive that is resistant to moisture and dust. The damage-resistant Gorilla Glass touch screen increases durability further.

Liftware

Liftware
Liftware (Courtesy: www.hongkiat.com)

It is for patients who suffer from hand tremors, Parkinson’s disease or other forms of motion disorders. Basically, it is a self-stabilising handle that stabilises up to 70 per cent of the disruption and helps reduce the spilling of contents from the utensil before food reaches the patient’s mouth. It comes with a charger, three utensils, a spoon, a fork and a soup spoon. The handle can be wiped down, while spoons and the fork can be washed like normal utensils. One-time charge can last several meals. Liftware Level ensures the utensil stays steady and level as your hand moves and bends while Liftware Steady focuses to reduce the effects of hand shake.

Sesame Phone

Sesame phone
Sesame phone (Courtesy: http://disabilityhorizons.com)

Persons with limited mobility find it difficult to operate a normal phone. Designed for people with such disabilities, Sesame Phone is a touch-free smartphone. This phone can be operated with small head movements, tracked by its front-facing camera. So even without touching this device users can access all of its features. It is designed to recognise gestures for swipe, browse, play and more. Voice control provides a real hands-free experience on the phone.

Just speak the phrase “Open Sesame” into the mouth piece and your phone will switch on. As it gets activated, the front-facing camera starts tracking the position of your head. The cursor on the screen allows you to make calls, send texts and emails, and use apps. The camera sensitivity can be adjusted to suit the user. Turning your head right will send the cursor right, turning it to the left will send it to the left. Nodding up or down completes the simple navigation system.


 

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