I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

So yesterday I had the opportunity to to visit the Abilities Expo for a few hours and needless to say, I was amazed by some of the assistive technology I found over there. Now I touched upon this in earlier blogs but for those who forgot, assistive technologies are a wide range of devices that give people with various disabilities weather they be physical, cognitive, or learning based disabilities to live, learn, work, and play just as efficiently as everyone else.

My day started with me entering the Boston Exhibition Center and as I walked in I was immediately thrown off guard by the appearance of the venue. Now in the months of either March or April I only know this place for one event and one event only, PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) East or nerd central so having not been in the area for several months you could understand the sense of shock from going from this,

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and this,

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and this,

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and this,

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and this,

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and this,

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and this,

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and this,

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To this,

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and this,

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and this,

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and this,

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This is isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s just a little weird to be able to easily navigate the halls of the convention center with out having to weave in and out of an influx of nerds and hardcore gamers, some who unfortunately don’t care about the importance of taking a shower before leaving the hotel or even just throwing on deodorant. It was refreshing for once not having to walk into a BO cloud but I do miss all the pretty costumes and the massive booths where I got to stand in ridiculous lines for several hours just to say I tried out a game five to six months before the rest of the world. Though this event was a bit more low key than what I’m used to and didn’t take up as much of the convention center as PAX usually does, it would send a powerful message about technology and the role it plays in the lives of those who need it the most. Assistive technologies have been around for ages but they have slowly evolved into cheaper yet efficient means of improving a persons way of living. I have grown up using various assistive technologies such as smart pens and paper for  efficient note taking and an iPod touch as a planner since I can be rather forgetful at times. Here are a few I found impressive.

1.

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This nifty little device is a closed caption phone which uses special voice to speech technology to create text from the voice of the person on the other end. It is a great solution for those who are hard at hearing to efficiently carry out a phone conversation so that they never miss a beat. I also find it great for those who aren’t good a retaining information as a method of recalling a conversation word for word. It makes for great note taking and a way to get the most important pieces of information from a phone call.

2.

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This really awesome device under the Surface tablet is a Tobii and it is made by ATI, a company I use for getting high end graphics cards for gaming PCs. This wonderful piece of technology allows those who aren’t able to use their hands or a mouse efficiently to control a cursor using just their eyes. If calibrated correctly you can open desktop application simply by looking at the icon. It also works in conjunction with a speech program for those who have trouble with verbal communication. The device can also sync up with a TV remote and the channel can be changed simply by looking at a set of favorites. I was completely blown away by the sheer accuracy of this device.

3.

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This nifty wheel from Ford comes with this circular piece that when pushed in can control the accelerator in a vehicle. Compared to the hand controls I’ve seen on other cars that look really noticeable, this one was a bit more discreet and has a nice form factor.

There were tons more technologies on the show floor that I didn’t get a chance to cover but yesterday made me realize how far we’ve come technologically. It’s amazing how people who have writing/typing difficulties can write entire essays just by speaking into a head set or being able to control home appliances with just their voice. I find it amazing how in a matter for 20-30 years we’ve come from this,

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to this and so much more,

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I don’t know what’s next in the world of assertive technology but you can count on one thing, it’ll definitely rock my socks off.

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2 thoughts on “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

  1. Pingback: The Anatomy of An Epic Blog Title |

  2. Pingback: Out of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire |

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