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How Technology is Enhancing Life for People with Disabilities, Part 1 of 2

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. However, scientists and engineers are discovering many new ways to improve the lives of those with vision, hearing, ambulatory, or other impairments.

Let’s now look at some emerging technological advances that could significantly reduce the impact of this condition. One exciting new development is the “bionic eye.”For example, researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales in Australia are developing a system called the Phoenix 99. “It has 98 electrodes that are able to provide stimulation with the purpose of restoring some form of vision.” Meanwhile, researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN) are working on yet another way to restore vision, using a brain implant that bypasses the retina, and stimulates the visual cortex. Another much less expensive technology improving life for the visually impaired is the smartphone. Many apps, such as Microsoft’s “Seeing AI” and Google’s “Envision,” are helping to make everyday tasks easier.

According to the WHO, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death, accounting for 32% of all deaths globally. However, help may be only a “heartbeat” away, as technology is making great strides in developing innovative solutions. For example, in 2021, doctors in Naples, Italy, successfully implanted a unique new, entirely artificial heart in a patient.

Researchers from the University of Bristol have created artificial skin. Made using 3-D printing, this so-called “skin” uses simulated nerve signals to create a sense of touch the way human skin does.

But artificial hearts, eyes, cartilage, and skin are not the only amazing new discoveries being made. Scientists from the UK have recently created an artificial pancreas. Designed to help manage Type 1 diabetes, a system called CamAPS FX could be “life-changing” for both parents and their youngsters.
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