According to the World Health Organization there are around one billion people living with a disability worldwide, that’s about one in five people in the Western World. Everyday new technologies are being developed that make a positive contribution not only to the lives of people with a disability, but also the broader community.
LC Technologies, an American company, has invented Eyegaze Edge, a device which lets people control a computer using just their eyes. This technology uses Pupil Centre/Corneal Reflection or PCCR. A tablet with a video camera is set up in front of the user with an LED light shining into the eye. The camera measures the distance between the centre of the user’s pupil and the reflection of the LED light on the cornea. As the distance shifts, the computer can work out exactly what the user is looking at.
A similar device, the HeadMouse Nano, has been developed by Texas-based Origin Instruments. This cheaper version tracks the movements of a reflective dot stuck to the user’s forehead which controls a computer cursor.
Many people who are visually impaired have some capacity to distinguish between light and dark. So, an Oxford University neuroscientist has developed “smart glasses” that accentuate the difference between dark and light objects. The “smart glasses” can select and simplify images on a computer screen in a visually-impaired person’s field of vision.
Technology is also breaking down barriers for people who are deaf and blind. An Italian scientist has developed a special glove which turns hand movements into electronic signals. The dbGLOVE transfers these signals into computer text, and actuators trace the letter back onto the hand. This innovation enables deafblind people to operate computers and smartphones.
For more information on the tech giving power to deal with disability, click here.