Innovations in technology revolutionize disability aid FEATURE
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From robotic arms to connected canes, new technology is helping people better navigate their everyday.

Graduate students from the University of Antwerp have created a 3D-printed robotic arm called ASLAN. The name stands for "Antwerp's Sign Language Actuating Node", TechCrunch reports. This arm was created from 25 3D-printed parts and 16 servos connected to an Arduino board.

The students created this arm to use sign language to aid the hearing impaired. According to Digital Trends, the robot can hear spoken language and translate the words into sign language.

While sign language done by a human is far more intricate, ASLAN can be used as an option to teach or be used as a translating service. The team behind the robotic arm says an accompanying arm Is on the way, as well as an emotive robotic face. Future plans also include an open source plan, allowing others a chance to make use of the robot.

Feeling music without hearing it

24 hearing impaired students from the National School for the Deaf in Santo Domingo were also able to get a thrilling new experience thanks to innovative tech. SubPac, a startup that created a tactile bass system that transfers sound frequencies to the body through wireless input, donated two of its units to The Muse Seek Project to allow deaf students to feel music and vibrations. 

Matt Bokor reports that by connecting these units to a hydrophone beneath a whale-watching boat, the students on the boat could feel the humpback whales' singing through the vibrations.

Connected cane helps the visually impaired

French startup Handisco created a connected walking stick to help the blind—an Internet of Things device that can strap onto a cane.

 

This device is called the Sherpa, named after Himalayan mountain guides. It uses GPS and Internet of Things technology to connect to pedestrian lights and let the user know when it is safe to cross the street. This device can also give guidance on directions as well as share information on bus routes.

These are just a few examples of new technology that's improving people's quality of life—and we look forward to the innovations that can bring on these new experiences.

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About Stephanie Chan

Stephanie Ellen Chan is the Editorial and Video Producer at Cisco. She has a passion for writing about the intersection of culture, media, art, and technology.