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5 New Assistive Technologies for 2021

30 September, 2020

Assistive technology can have a huge positive impact on daily life for those of us with a disability. We've searched for the best new assistive technologies that have been released so far in 2020 and that will make an impact in 2021.

If you are living with a disability, technology can aid in community inclusion, getting your medication or simply getting around. In an earlier article, we revealed some of our favourite assistive technologies that are making life easier. Today, we’re rounding up our favourite cutting edge releases of 2020 and that will make an impact in 2021.

Some of these technologies are so new that they’re not available in Australia just yet, but if the overseas trials go well enough, we will hopefully be seeing them rolled out here too.

1. Google Accessible Places

Last year on Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 21st), Google announced that Google Maps will show places that are wheelchair accessible.

According to Google, their Google Maps feature is used by over one billion people every month. This new feature should expand that figure by providing a far more inclusive service.

You’ll see a wheelchair icon next to accessible places, along with more information such as whether there is an accessible bathroom, a lift and so on. As part of the Google community, anyone can add to this information to help other users.

To access, download Google Maps (for free) on your smart device or head to Google Maps on the web. Then turn on the “Accessible Places” feature in the settings.

2. Pills on Wheels

White pills in a dish on a table with leaves - Focus Disability Services

With the recent coronavirus situation, innovators have been seeking out the best ways to provide contactless services. The latest is Nuro, a custom-built, low-speed electric delivery vehicle. What sets Nuro apart from the rest? The vehicles are autonomous, meaning they don’t need a driver.

This has been allowing pharmacy customers to order their medication online and delivered to their door. They can add non-prescription items as well. Nuro is being hailed as a wonderful invention for those with disabilities or illnesses that may prevent them from accessing the essential items they rely on.

Nuro was founded by two former engineers at Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo. They are dedicating their lives to creating new technologies to solve all of life’s little challenges.

Currently, Nuro is only being trialled in the USA. However, with the demand rising for accessibility across the board, perhaps this will arrive in Australia soon.

3. Skyle for iPad
Young girl in glasses sits looking at a Skyle device - Focus Disability Services

Earlier this year, the world's first eye tracker for iPad Pro was released. This allows you to control an iPad using only your eyes - which is ideal for people with lots of physical disabilities.

The device is very simple to use, allowing for independent access and turning your iPad into an augmentative & alternative communication (AAC) device.

This is great for people with conditions such as:

  • Cerebral palsy

  • ALS

  • Rett syndrome

  • A spinal cord injury

Designed to be flexible in meeting communication needs, you can send emails, use social media, video call and so much more thanks to Skyle. You can purchase the Skyle Eye Tracker for iPad Pro and a case from Spectronics, here in Australia. Please note that you will need to purchase an iPad Pro 12.9” (3rd & 4th generation) separately. You’ll also require the operating system iOS 13.0 or later.

4. The Y-Brush
Y-brush for people with disability

Brushing teeth is necessary for everyone. In fact, dentists recommend that we follow a strict regime every day. Standing brushing for two minutes each time can get boring - but for some of us, it’s simply impossible.

Dentists have created a world-first, a brush which takes only 10 seconds to use from start to finish. It’s great for people with disabilities and those who are more dependent. This is because brushes are flexible, adaptable to all jaw shapes, and you only need to make simple gestures to use the brush.

This new technology relies on sonic vibrations, which remove dental plaque thanks to thousands of something called nylon filaments.

You can purchase your own Y-Brush online.

5. Chord Assist

If you love music, you’ve more than likely dreamed of becoming a rock star at some stage! For many people living with a disability, these dreams can seem like a distant reality… that is, until recently.

Joe Birch is a young musician with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that causes vision loss over time. He’s also a developer, so he combined his love of music and experience being in bands with his technical know-how to help disabled people to learn guitar.

Thanks to his software development skills, Joe has now created a new guitar called Chord Assist that’s ideal for people with disabilities, especially those who are blind or deaf.

It uses a tiny computer known as Raspberry Pi, as well as an LCD screen, Braille display and a speaker. You can ask the guitar questions about how to play, and it’ll help you do so.

Learn more about Joe’s creation and his partnership with Google. Anyone can be a rock star - it’s all about your attitude!

There are so many fascinating kinds of assistive technologies currently on the market, and we’re always on the lookout for the latest. If you would like more information on how Focus Care can help you integrate technology to help you or a loved one with a disability, please get in touch with us here.

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