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IoT for People with Disabilities: How Technology Makes Their Lives Better

July 15, 2022
7 min
IoT for People with Disabilities

While digital technologies today are widely applied in numerous business domains and many aspects of our private lives, one of their most important roles is in the healthcare industry. The value of tech solutions explains the growing demand for custom healthcare development services. Software solutions can be aimed at increasing the efficiency of treatment and the quality of medical services provided, as well as facilitation of everyday tasks for patients, elderly people and people with disabilities. This article will focus on the social role of the Internet of Things in this field, the types of potential software solutions, devices, and IoT technologies for disabilities

IoT for disabilities: Why these technologies are important

These days many governments all over the world are investing money in projects and initiatives that work on creating a barrier-free environment for disabled people. The final goal of these investments is to ensure that, regardless of their diagnosis and physical abilities or limitations, people can participate in social life, enjoy all the benefits of the modern world and fulfill many tasks fully autonomously.

In the 21st century, we shouldn’t ignore the opportunities provided by modern technologies and, in particular, the Internet of Things, which can become a core technology for creating solutions for people with disabilities. IoT devices can provide new methods for interacting with numerous real-world objects, which is extremely important for users with injuries or physical disabilities. As a result, many tasks that previously were extremely challenging or impossible to fulfill become real and simple

What benefits do people with disabilities get from using IoT technologies?

Just as IoT solutions for seniors help elderly people remain independent even when they have health issues, IoT helps break down barriers for people with disabilities. Let’s take a closer look at some of the core benefits of IoT-based technologies for disabled people.

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  • Higher mobility

Quite often people with disabilities, especially those with low vision, face a loss of mobility because of related challenges. However, thanks to IoT applications and various types of sensors, these problems can be overcome.

For example, a GPS-powered mobile app, CrossWalk, developed in the Netherlands and tested in some specific zones can notify smart traffic lights powered by special sensors that a pedestrian with disabilities or an elderly person intends to cross the road and can request additional time for the green light. Improving their ability to safely cross roads and get to, say, a bus stop, allows individuals with disabilities easier access to locations that were previously inaccessible to them. 

  • Enhanced autonomy

Thanks to the Internet of Things for disabilities, people can achieve more freedom, autonomy and independence from family. Smart devices, including ovens, fridges and other home appliances, can help disabled people better manage everyday tasks and maintain control of their lives. This can make independent living a possibility despite the disability.

  • Better command of the environment

People with disabilities may have different ways of learning and interacting with the world around them, especially those who experience total or partial hearing and/or vision loss. However, IoT solutions with AI-based features (for example, text-to-speech devices like scanning machines or readers) help overcome many barriers.

Examples of IoT-based products for people with disabilities

Though it is impossible to enumerate all the products powered by IoT for disabled people, let’s have a look at some key categories.

  • Communication technologies

For various reasons, individuals with disabilities can have problems communicating with others, making it necessary to have a human interpreter by their side. However, solutions such as teletypewriters, text-to-speech scanners, voice recorders, and players help overcome these issues.

  • Wearables and tracking devices

Tracking technologies and wearables enable continuous data collection about user behavior and movement and send information to a server where the data is analyzed; based on this data, information about further actions from IoT solutions can be required. For example, if a user often forgets to take pills, an app can be used to remind him or her to do so. If an individual with memory loss is prone to wandering and confusion, the app can notify a family member that the person has left the safe area. 

  • Smart home solutions

Smart home products are aimed at changing the way we interact with objects around us. For people with disabilities, these solutions can provide an additional benefit — more independence. These systems usually offer functionality such as remote lighting control, remote climate management, automated window treatment, and enhanced security. All this is possible thanks to smart devices powered by sensors and advanced mobile apps that allow for executing control over the entire system in just a few clicks. You can read more about IoT home automation solutions in one of our previously published articles.

 

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Create and Simplify Life with Cogniteq's Advanced Technologies

Technology boosts progress, of course, but it also can simplify everyday tasks — especially when the user has a disability.

At Cogniteq, one of our core focuses is providing full-cycle IoT development services for a variety of industries, such as healthcare. That includes solutions for people with disabilities.

Our successfully launched products say more than words. So let’s take a closer look at some of the solutions powered by the Internet of Things for people with disabilities.

Connected Kitchen is a unique cooking app for people with learning or developmental disabilities. The app is intended to help individuals with neurological disorders cook independently. It contains many simple recipes, with step-by-step instructions and a description of all the necessary tools and ingredients. The app has a voice control feature; it can also voice the recipes and guide a user through the entire cooking process by sending notifications if a user doesn’t start fulfilling the next step within the set time period.

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What’s even more important is that our team managed to synchronize Connected Kitchen’s functionality with a bracelet via a Bluetooth connection. Before starting to cook a meal, it is necessary to configure the kitchen area. If the user leaves the kitchen during the cooking process, the bracelet will start vibrating. The bracelet also functions as a reminder when the user is cooking and needs to move to the next step. This IoT solution was built for the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom and has already proved its efficacy.

Another example of an IoT app for disabled people built by our team is Smooth Talker AAC. This app helps therapists, teachers, and parents develop the language and communication skills of children with autism. The solution allows one or two users to record voice messages and play them back in a variety of ways. There are 7 playback modes, including the Talk mode, believed to be most effective for boosting communication skills when working with autistic children.

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The solution is also integrated with a special device for iPad developed by our client. It is Kinetic. One of the modes will play back voice recordings depending on the orientation of this device. Today the app is being used in work with children with autism, and these children demonstrate amazing results in developing language skills.

Closing word

When we are building software solutions intended for people with disabilities, for us, it is extremely important to see that our product brings real benefits to end-users. We believe in the power of technologies to make the lives of all people better and easier, and we do our best to use all the possibilities provided to us by the most innovative tech tools.

Internet of Things technology for disabled people is a quickly growing segment, as the demand for such solutions is extremely high. According to a report published by WHO and UNICEF in May 2022, more than 2.5 billion people all over the world need one or more assistive products that support their communication, transportation, and cognition. While many of these assistive products, like wheelchairs, are not tech-powered, modern technologies, including the Internet of Things, can greatly enhance their efficiency and bring more real value to users.

If you have an idea for an IoT app, do not hesitate to contact us. Our team is always open to great ideas, and even if you don’t know how to start, don’t worry! We are ready to support you at any step of software development.

FAQ: What you need to know about IoT for people with disabilities

  • What are the core issues associated with IoT for the disabled?

As with any other IoT segment, the main issue is security threats, which means developers need to pay special attention to this aspect. Cyber attacks, exposure to harm, and data leakage can pose risks, but with the right approach, it is possible to minimize these risks.

  • What are some examples of IoT-based technologies for the disabled?

The range of solutions for people with disabilities is continuously expanding. Among the examples of such technologies in use today are screen readers, braille displays, smart walkers, voice recognition solutions, reading pens, text-to-speech apps, special smart bracelets, etc.

  • What are the main pros and cons of launching an IoT-powered solution for people with disabilities?

The main benefit that IoT solutions bring is their social importance and facilitation of different everyday tasks for disabled people. The main disadvantages are possible privacy and security issues and the complexity of the solutions themselves. The development of such products requires a high level of professionalism on the part of developers.