As of 2018, an estimated one billion people worldwide needed at least one assistive product, but only one in ten had access to these products,  according to the World Health Organization. Over the past decades, people living with disabilities believed technological advancements were for those without a disability. For most individuals with physical or mental impairments, tech features installed in most devices couldn’t help them in many ways. But that’s not the case anymore. Today, tech equipment and gadgets come fitted with features that focus on improving the quality of life for anyone with a disability. Even more interesting, devices feature smart apps necessary for people with disabilities to enhance their functionality. Below are a few examples of assistive tech developments making life easier for individuals with disabilities. 

AI-powered digital assistants

With developments in voice technology like natural language understanding, individuals living with disabilities can live independently. For example, AI-powered digital assistant devices like Siri and Alexa function effectively based on voice commands. This means you can control lights, switch tv channels, or adjust temperatures by asking Siri, Amazon Echo, or Alexa to do it. By leveraging the power of voice-enabled devices, people with limited mobility don’t need to rely on others to perform simple tasks like switching on lights, adjusting room temperatures, and unlocking doors.  

Wearable robotics

Until recently, powered exoskeletons or wearable robotics that increase the wearer’s muscle strength beyond normal human capabilities were downright fictional. Today, wearable robotics are popular as they enable people with lower paralysis to walk. Typically, robotic exoskeletons rely on sensors integrated with a gesture-enabled interface that detects the user’s intentions. The onboard computer, powered by batteries, then commands motors fitted at the knee and hip joints to move the legs smoothly. 

Given this robotic technology helps legs move through a natural gait, it can help children diagnosed with cerebral palsy walk without difficulties. According to CPFN, taking care of a child living with cerebral palsy can be complicated because they struggle to walk upright. And over time, they lose the ability to walk unless they undergo orthopedic surgery, which can be costly. Luckily, exoskeletons aim to enhance and maintain an individual’s ability to walk, thus improving their overall well-being and reducing medical expenses. 

Next-gen hearing aids

The next-generation hearing aids aim to improve the quality of life for those living with hearing loss. Based on a study published in the Science Advances journal, next-gen hearing aids could match the listener’s brainwaves with the sound of the speaker’s voice. The hearing aids then adjust the volume of that speaker based on the data collected. Ideally, these innovative hearing tech devices will help solve how individuals pick out a specific sound in a noisy environment. Additionally, some of these hearing aids are AI-powered, compatible with Bluetooth features, and connect with smartphone apps. 

Modern technologies like augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things transform how people drive, shop, and perform household chores. And people with disabilities are not an exception to the current digital transformation. Thanks to innovative assistive products like exoskeletons, advanced hearing aids, voice-controlled devices, and mobile assistive devices, individuals living with disabilities can enjoy convenience and independence.