Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bee-Inspired: 10 Ingenious Inventions for People with Disabilities

Why is technological research so incredibly important? 

If nothing else, it works towards creating solutions for all of the problems faced by the individuals inventing them (or loved ones close to them). Some would say that these inventions are "impossible" but you know that we all promote more reasons to "Believe in the Impossible!" Perhaps not ideal solutions for those living with hydranencephaly, but any progress to promote independence, and ability despite inability, is reason for us to share!

...original list published on Mashable, by Matt Petronzio

  • Kenguru-car-wheelchair

    1. Kenguru Electric Car

    Wheelchair users have driven cars for a long time -- various adaptations and modifications allow for more accessibility. But there's a major disadvantage: Most people need to collapse their wheelchairs and transfer themselves into the vehicle, which can be time-consuming and difficult.

    The Kenguru -- from founder and CEO Stacy Zoern, who struggles with muscular atrophy -- is an electric car in which drivers can remain in their wheelchairs. It's considered a "community car," only reaching 25 miles per hour (the legal maximum for such a car), meant for nearby errands. According to the website, the Kenguru will be available "soon" in the UK.
  • 2. SMART Belt 

    People with epilepsy experience seizures at any time, often without warning. In May 2013, senior engineering students at Rice University in Texas developed the Seizure Monitoring and Response Transducer (SMART) belt to detect signs of seizures. It can also wirelessly send messages to guardians or caretakers.

    The Smart Belt is meant for ages six and up, and is still in development at the time of this writing.


    3. Braille Smartphone
    We've seen cellphones with braille number keys, but what about touchscreen smartphones? Sumit Dagar, a 2011 TED Fellow, is developing a phone with a screen comprised of a grid of pins. When the user receives a message, the pins form shapes and characters using "Shape Memory Alloy" technology.

    Dagar hopes to release the phone by the end of 2013, with a price of $185.

    4. Lucy 4 Keyboard
    With the Lucy 4 keyboard, people with limited or no use of their hands can operate a computer. The user mounts a battery-operated laser pointer on his glasses or headband, then selects keys on the custom stand-up keyboard.

    A woman named Janine, who has cerebral palsy, created Lucy, and she even made the website and an introductory video using her invention. The Lucy 4 keyboard allows people with disabilities to compute, while lessening fatigue.

    The executive director of assistive tech company Touch the Future recently gave a demonstration of the Lucy 4 keyboard at the Abilities Expo in Atlanta, Ga. Prices vary according to insurance policies and taxes.
  • Eyeborg-neil-harbisson

    5. Eyeborg

    Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia -- he's more than just colorblind; he can only see in black and white.
    He created the Eyeborg, which he straps to his head, to identify colors through audible tones sent through bone conduction. The device can pick up 360 hues.
    Learn more here.
  • Dynavox-eyemax

    6. DynaVox EyeMax

    DynaVox's EyeMax uses eye-tracking technology for computing, watching television, reading books and speaking for people with limited mobility.

    The EyeMax's camera tracks the user's eye movements, allowing him or her to use the device simply by blinking or gazing.
    Dynavox offers a wide variety of tools and apps for people who need help communicating. Check out the company's website for more.
  • Braille-edge-40-2

    7. Braille EDGE 40 Display

    The Braille EDGE 40 is a powerful refreshable display, meaning it reads content on a computer screen and converts it to braille characters.
    This particular model is interesting for its seven built-in apps (including Notepad, Scheduler and Stopwatch) and conveniently located navigation and function keys.
    The EDGE runs for $2,995.


    8. iBot Stair-Climbing Wheelchair
    DEKA Research & Development, founded by Dean Kamen, created the iBot with wheelchair users in mind. Standard wheelchairs, manual or motorized, often cannot handle rough terrains.

    The iBot not only navigates any terrain, it can go up and down staircases with its self-balancing technology, and even "stand" (elevate at eye level).
  • Irobot-scooba

    9. iRobot Home Robots

    While the Roomba personal vaccuum wasn't necessarily made for people living with disabilities, iRobot's series of home robots are very helpful for people who cannot easily clean their homes with traditional equipment.

    The Roomba isn't typically considered a technological triumph, but it's vastly underrated. These robots use localized navigation to clean their environments thoroughly. This is the same navigation algorithm as iRobot's other line of autonomous vehicles: military-grade bomb disposal units.
  • Deka-bionic-arm-thumb

    10. DEKA Bionic Arm

    The DEKA Arm, often called "Luke" (after Luke Skywalker), is a DARPA-sponsored project for people who received upper extremity amputations. The developing device essentially revolutionizes prosthetics, giving the user more control.

    The DEKA arm has been a topic of conversation for a while, but according to a recent Popular Mechanics article, DARPA is still pushing boundaries with the technology.
  • Google-glass-yellow

    BONUS: Google Glass

    Google Glass is often seen as a gadget for tech-savvy geeks who want to be connected at all times. But 18-year-old Catalin Voss is working to create face-tracking software for the augmented reality glasses, and it's a natural tool for users with autism and related disorders.

    Through his startup, Sension, the face-tracking engine helps people better recognize and understand others' facial expressions and, in turn, their emotions.

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