Life-changing technologies are enabling people with disabilities to live a far more accessible life in smart cities around the world.
Of the nearly 7.6 billion people in the world, roughly 15 percent have some form of disability, making them the world’s largest minority, with significant, unmatched needs. According to the World Health Organization, over 2 billion people will need at least one assistive technology product to help them gain independence and mobility by 2030. As a result, the global elderly and disabled assistive devices market is expected to surpass $31 billion by 2027.
To enable people with disabilities to enjoy an unprecedented quality of life, startups across the globe and particularly in the “Startup Nation” are constantly developing new and innovative assistive technologies. ALYNnovation at Jerusalem’s ALYN Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Hospital and ARC Innovation Center at Tel Hashomer’s Sheba Medical Center are just two examples of in-house innovation centers at some of Israel’s most highly-regarded hospitals and rehabilitation centers for people with disabilities. Now, as smart cities begin to crop up across the country and around the globe, disability is being seen as a driver of smart city innovation, with startups and entrepreneurs looking to assist all sectors of the global population in their quest to live safer, smarter, and more successful lives.
Here are some of the most exciting assistive technologies being developed with people with
disabilities in mind:
Intelligent urban mobility
Intelligent urban mobility harnesses the power of real-time collected data to make travel safer and smarter for people of all abilities, whether by foot, private vehicle, or public transportation. These platforms and applications integrate on-the-ground cameras, sensors, and IoT systems with machine learning and artificial intelligence software to provide the most comprehensive information on how to get from one place to another, at any given time.
From sound alerts that transmit practical information on public transport activities to users’ smartphones and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms that bundles transport options such as ride-sharing and other on-demand services to allow people with and without disabilities to get from one place to another as swiftly and seamlessly as possible, with minimum cost or disruption to their daily lives. From GPS-driven sound alerts on potential obstacles and information on nearby locations’ accessibility to audio signs explaining users’ surroundings in places of business. Enabling connections and communication between people with disabilities and service providers allows them to access more of what smart cities have to offer – with greater efficiency and satisfaction.
Smart health solutions
New technologies are empowering people with disabilities to enjoy greater autonomy and take more active roles in their healthcare and health-related decisions. There are applications that connect users to remote healthcare providers, alarms that remind users when to take medications, platforms that present people with disabilities with visual instructions on how and when to perform daily activities, solutions that use algorithms to find the right frequencies that enable people with hearing impairments to rejoin public conversations, and more.
What’s unique about these innovations is that they target specific challenges experienced by people with disabilities of all kinds, and endeavor to simultaneously improve each user’s individual health and wellbeing, while promoting greater inclusivity within society as a whole.
The best way to make cities more inclusive for people with disabilities is to plan smart city infrastructure that meets these populations’ specific needs – from the start. When integrated into smart cities’ infrastructure from the design stage, digital accessibility and mobility innovations are far more affordable and easier to implement, and overcome significant adoption challenges while ensuring more people can live and function within the city, and do so as independently as possible.
Assisting startups in their quest for assistive technology development
When considering the needs of smart cities, it is easy for developers to rely on the raw data provided by their advanced software solutions. But when considering the needs of people with disabilities within these smart cities, the human being behind the initiative must always remain front and center.
While several assistive technologies are making smart cities more accessible for people with disabilities, it is important to remember that educating these populations on the existence and manipulation of these technological innovations is as important (if not even more so) than their invention. Not knowing about or knowing how to leverage assistive technologies present significant obstacles inhibiting their use by precisely those people they were designed to assist. These barriers must be overcome to truly enable people with disabilities to become more active and productive participants in smart city life and transform their daily lives for the better. Highroad can help with that.
Highroad is an innovation platform designed to invest and support the technological disruption of daily life, to achieve your goal of developing assistive technologies for people with disabilities. We help great entrepreneurs like you set and achieve the right business goals to get them where they need to be.
Think your assistive technology is the future of smart city innovation? Inquire about joining Highroad Launchpad, an exciting accelerator program located in the heart of the ‘Startup Nation’, today!
Click here to learn more.