With all of today’s advances in emerging technologies, have you ever wondered: How else could we use this for a greater purpose? Luckily, a few folks from Electronics of the Future and Florida International University (FIU) had that exact thought. They decided it was time to make a difference and began working on new advances in both wearable and assistive technology. Together, they have developed a skin sensing vision system for the visually impaired and have completely changed the way we look at medical sensing technology.
The Who and the What
Before we dive into this new evolutionary technology, lets introduce the creators. Dr. Michael Shur with Electronics of the Future has teamed up with Shubhendu Bhardwaj, John Volakis and team with the Florida International University (FIU), to push the technology industry forward and change the lives of many. They are working on two new products, currently in their final stages before launch to the open market.
The technology consists of both wearable and assistive technology. Wearable Technology is currently one of the fastest growing areas of the technology industry. Many of us can recognize these types of tech from popular products including Apple Watches, Fit Bits, and more. Whereas, Assistive Technology might not be as well-known to most. It can be defined as any device or software that helps people work around the challenges faced from a disability. These types of technology range from screen readers to hearing aids and help users regain the independence they may have once had.
Skin Sensing Vision System
Whether someone is completely blind or visually impaired, completing everyday tasks can be a challenge. Even just walking down the street can be a treacherous feat. That is where Dr. Michael Shur got his inspiration for his new Skin Sensing Vision System technology. One day when picking his son up from school, he noticed a child with a walking cane. The boy was hitting the edge of the curb with the cane and Shur thought to himself, “there’s got to be a better way”. So, he got to work on a mission to find it.
The tech consists of a flexible electronic device that has direct input to the human skin. Through the use of a camera and image processing data base, the device can accurately detect an object and compute its distance from it. Through two skin patches, signals will be transmitted from the device to the user, acting as an artificial eye. All new users will first need to complete a training course to familiarize themselves with the system. But after training, users will be able to distinguish what object is in front of them and how far away it is. Whether it be a tree or a bench, the device will signal the object and its distance/direction from them to the user. The best part is the system is built right into everyday clothing, such as a t-shirt. Being unlike anything else available today, this technology has the potential to change the lives of the visually impaired community forever!
Wearable Medical Sensing Technology
For many, mobility can be a real issue. For the elderly, disabled, amputee, or infant, it is hard to constantly keep track of various bodily functions. Even through the advancements we have had in medical technology, when movement is a problem having to constantly go back and forth to your devices can be a pain. Fortunately, Bhardwaj, Volakis and team have developed and improved wearable medical sensing and imaging devices. From heartbeat to blood pressure, all a user has to do is link their tech with their phone and they have constant access to their current readings. Taking this one step further, the readings can also be linked to their doctor’s office. Allowing the doctor to keep track and alert the patient should something be out of line. Now you might be thinking, “how big of a device do I need to strap across my body to do this?” Not to worry though, similar to the vision system, this device is also built right into your every day clothing. But it gets better still! The team has also developed wireless charging pads that can go right over furniture. This means, you could be wirelessly charging your t-shirt device while sitting at your kitchen table for lunch. Now it may sound great but whats the catch? How much is this going to run me? Luckily, this type of technology is very inexpensive and would be as much as other wearable tech devices we already have. Items like wristband heartbeat sensors or standard hearing aids. Not to mention what the insurance company will be able to cover.
So, with cheap costs and nothing but strong benefits why not keep a look out for the release of these new devices and ask your medical professional if something like this could one day be right for you. In conclusion, these new advances spell hope for the future of the disabled community overall and can help millions live a more accessible and easy life.
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