The Paralympic Games open on September 7th; they are a visible example of how powerful and pervasive assistive technology has become. This month, we’re asking: what is the most innovative assistive technology application you’ve seen? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth $50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes September 28th.
Powerful and Pervasive Technologies
Assistive technologies are diminishing physical limitations. During the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the delegates were addressed by Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. She strode to and from the podium, fully mobile, despite having lost her legs while serving in the military.
The forthcoming Paralympic Games are another powerful illustration that impairment does not mean disabled: competition is conducted at the highest level. New materials (such as carbon fibre) combined with engineering nous have created products such as the “Flex-Foot Cheetah” which enable athletes to run who could not otherwise have walked. Other technologies compensate for the absence or impairment of senses.
For the Elderly Too
These technologies also assist the elderly. A “Smart Walker”, for example, can have a range of functionality including an “Advanced human–machine interface” in addition to providing physical support. (Martins et al., 2012, p. 555) One type of “Smart Walker” is the “SIMBIOSIS”: “This walker presents a multisensory biomechanical platform for predictive human–machine cooperation….the forces that are applied by the user on each forearm-support while walking are measured and the guidance information can be inferred. This turns out to be a natural and transparent interface that does not need previous training by the user.” (Martins et al., 2012, p. 558)
It’s clear that assistive technology is enhancing lives, but what is the most innovative application you’ve encountered? Tell us!
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MARTINS, M., SANTOS, C., FRIZERA-NETO, A. and CERES, R. (2012). Assistive mobility devices focusing on Smart Walkers: Classification and review. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 60(4), pp.548-562.
Össur Americas. (2016) Flex-Foot Cheetah. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ossur.com/prosthetic-solutions/products/sport-solutions/cheetah. [Accessed 10 August 2016].