Assistive Technology (AT) is innovating at a rapid pace. Yet globally, most people are unable to use it. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests almost 1 billion people need Assistive Technology but don’t have the means to access it. So to address some of this global deficit, the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) announced three investments. One is to the tune of £4 million and will scale an Assistive Tech ecosystem in Africa for low-and middle-income populations.  

So while the global need for Assistive Technology continues, let’s look at some exciting innovations that are solving some of the current barriers to access.

Lip-Reading tech innovations trialling with the NHS

Liopa is a UK-based technology start-up that emerged out of Queen’s University Belfast and the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT). They’ve developed pioneering AI-based lipreading technology in an app called SRAVI (a smartphone-based lipreading app). Plus, they’ve developed ways to detect words or phrases in silent video. 

But what’s really exciting is that their SRAVI app has trialled with the NHS. And it aims to bring relief to those on ventilators who may find it harder to vocalise their words. As a fast and effective solution, SRAVI is helping medical staff increase their understanding of ICU patients. 

Brain-machine interface tech (BMI) to assist with neurological disease

Remember the ice bucket challenge? It raised huge sums for ALS research and helped Pison founder Dexter Ang launch his Assistive Technology start-up.  

Inspired to find a way to use technology to aid his mother’s struggles with the disease, Dexter Ang is one of the pioneers of a type of assistive technology called BMI. By capturing nerve signals in ALS patients, BMI technology makes it possible for those with limited mobility to interact with their environment through machines. 

And while Elon Musk is also a leader in the same innovation space (see Neuralink), Dexter Ang is on a mission to use BMI tech innovations to improve the lives of ALS sufferers.  

Eye Gaze software to enable eye-tracking on Ipad pro

Skyle is an exciting new software. And it’s supporting people who live with cerebral palsy, ALS or spinal cord injury. 

By using eye-tracking technology, Skyle enables people to engage with the Ipad pro in a new and innovative way. Deemed an augmentation & alternative communication tool (AAC), Skyle helps users navigate the Ipad pro using only their eyes. 

Advancements for blind or visually impaired 

Orcam uses ‘artificial vision’ to improve the lives of people with visual impairment. 

And their new OrCam MyReader 2 claims to be their most advanced AI device. Helping with reading newspapers, menus or screens, it can even scan QR codes, barcodes and human faces.

The best thing is that it’s wearable. And by clipping onto the side of your glasses, it acts as a helpful assistant who can read any text into your ear. 

With so many progressive innovations in Assistive Technology, we’re excited to see what else could emerge over the coming months and years.