Electronics based Assistive Technology
The recent advancements in technology and the plethora of electronic devices that have emerged over the recent years have transformed the lives of common man. One of the most notable and humbling impact it has made in the recent times is towards Assistive Technology.
What is AT (Assistive Technology)?
Assistive Technology (AT) includes electronic devices, smart gadgets and equipment that aid people with physical impairments or disabilities to overcome their limitations and help them lead an independent and better social life. Electronics based AT is a game changer for students and professionals with disabilities, and also for the elderly. Assistive technology devices aim to easing connectivity and communication for individuals with sensory, physical or cognitive difficulties, impairments and disabilities to enable them to fully participate in society. Assistive technology devices for the elderly can restore confidence, improve mobility and provide peace of mind to their families, knowing that their loved one is safe. AT products are designed to maintain, improve and enable an individual’s independent day to day functioning, both for the elderly and for people with disabilities. The recent development in small-footprint, wearable electronics has helped stave off the stigma attached to using assistive technology devices and opened up a wide market for electronics based assistive technology devices.
Types of Electronics – Assistive Technology devices
Electronics based AT devices can be broadly categorized into three major categories:
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
Some of the most popular Electronics based Assistive Technology devices in the market include, Hearing aids, communication aids, screen readers, pill organizers and memory aids among others. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), globally, currently more than one billion people need one or more assistive electronics products and by 2030 about 2 billion people would need at least one assistive product. This calls for increased investment and researches in Assistive Technology and future appears very encouraging for the elderly and the differently abled.
Let’s take a quick look at some of popular electronics based AT devices in the above-mentioned categories that aids various impairments!
- Screen readers: Ideal for people with low vision, screen readers help to convert text to speech and magnify text on screen.
- Smart glasses: Users with poor vision can make use of smart wearable eye-wear to get navigation assistance and information about their surroundings using AR/VR and voice commands.
- Braille Devices: Braille displays and note-takers are powerful educational tools for students and professionals with disabilities
Devices for hearing impairments
- Hearing aids: Designed to be worn in-the-ear or in-the-canal or behind-the-ear, hearing aids are Assistive Technology devices that amplify sounds so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities.
- Assistive listening devices (ALDs): ALDs offer a variety of functions to help people hear better in busy or noisy environments, or in situations where there is a significant distance between the user and the sound they wish to hear. These assistive devices often help people who need temporary assistance in specific environments They can be used with or without hearing aids and they provide extra support on an as-needed basis.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an assistive technology that is helpful for people who are unable to communicate verbally. These can be simple devices that use pictures to communicate the need for something or complex speech storing devices that have audio output. For face to face communications, picture boards or touchscreen that uses images or symbols of typical items and activities can be used. For communicating over telephone, there are AAC devices available today which uses text-to-speech technology and voice recognition software.
Embedded Engineering companies play a crucial role in the evolution of the Electronics Assistive Devices Industry. Embedded Product Engineering companies like Mistral has been an active player in the Assistive Technology domain for over a decade, developing compelling products such as connected assistive devices, Screen Magnifiers, Portable Scanners, Braille Note-takers and Audio Aids among others. We have the engineering expertise to help assistive technology help OEMs realize their product concepts in shorter time frame, facilitating quick to market.