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 electronics devices have made in the recent times is towards Assistive Technology. Assistive Technology devices help people who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, pointing, seeing, hearing, learning, walking, and many other things. Different disabilities require different Assistive Technology and a wide variety of assistive technology devices are available today, providing an opportunity for nearly all differently abled people to access information digitally.
What is 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 Assistive Technology is a game changer for students and professionals with disabilities, and also for the elderly. These 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.
Assistive Electronics 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.
Electronics based Assistive Technology devices
Electronics based Assistive Technology 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 Organization (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 Assistive Technology devices in the above-mentioned categories that aids various impairments!
- Screen readers: Ideal for people with low vision, RF tag readers, 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 AT 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 device 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.
Over the past decade we have seen an explosion of new technologies that has changed the way we work, play games, learn and communicate. These changes such as smaller and less expensive hardware, reduction in power consumption, will make Assistive Technology devices more portable and flexible. Embedded Engineering companies play a crucial role in the evolution of the Assistive Electronics Technology 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.