Digital accessibility is becoming increasingly important. Connected devices are vital to empowering individuals with access needs so they can experience enhanced independence.
Smart connected devices provide several features that cater to the accessibility needs of users, leveraging cutting-edge technology and seamless communication. By integrating assistive technology, speech recognition capabilities, wearables, environmental adaptation, and telehealth services, these devices bridge the accessibility gap for greater inclusivity.
Compatible with assistive technologies, accommodate diverse sensory and motor abilities, and provide intuitive user interfaces – these considerations are essential for fostering inclusive experiences and empowering individuals with disabilities to fully leverage the potential of connected devices.
The Transformative Potential of Advanced Connected Devices for Accessibility
Connected devices can have a significant positive impact on accessibility. Let us look at how they can shape an inclusive future:
AI-powered Personalized Assistance
AI algorithms in connected devices provide personal assistance to users with mobility impairments. AI-powered apps can use cameras to narrate scenes, recognize facial expressions, and aid visually impaired users through object recognition. Visual-to-auditory sensory substitution devices (SSDs) offer shape and color information. Evolving technologies, such as robotic arms, bot mobility systems, and wearable robotic systems, also enhance accessibility.
Made for Everyone
Technology is emerging to have ‘Braille’ smartphones and laser-activated keyboards. Mobile phone designs are getting more focused on supporting voice commands, beeps, vibrations, etc. for effective interaction with accessible users. Smart home automation devices like motion-detection lights, voice-activated switches, and voice-activated temperature controls help users who are visually impaired, have low vision, have hand disabilities, use wheelchairs, or have movement disabilities. Additionally, it helps elderly people avoid the hassle of hunting for and fumbling for the switch.
Smart Security Applications
Connected security devices offer convenient access control for locking or unlocking doors and turning appliances on or off. These devices have rapidly evolved to incorporate advanced features such as triggering alarms, SOS messages, and emergency calls. Such features provide immediate assistance to users with restricted mobility and special needs in case of a breach.
Wearable Technology for Enhanced Accessibility
Wearable devices have opened up multiple use cases for technology to address various needs. Specially designed for the visually impaired, connected devices provide navigation using an inbuilt camera and alerting with vibration and verbal clues. Innovative footwear guides users on the optimal route to take. Smart glasses equipped with cameras and object recognition software provide visually challenged users with awareness of their surroundings using real-time audio descriptions.
Sensor Technology for Precise Interactions
Connected devices leverage advanced sensor technology to enable precise interactions that detect gestures, facial expressions, and other physical cues. This empowers individuals with limited mobility and dexterity, enhancing their control and interaction capabilities. This technology promotes inclusivity and accessibility by facilitating seamless access to digital interfaces.
Remote Monitoring and Telehealth
Deloitte reports that device manufacturers have streamlined fitness and health tracking, with 55% of users willingly sharing their health data with medical practitioners. This data exchange occurs through various channels including apps, in-person visits, text messages, or email. Connected devices offer telehealth options such as on-call doctor consultations, video conferences, pre-hospital checks, and monitoring devices. These capabilities enable healthcare professionals to remotely monitor patients, educate them, address concerns, and collect data for clinical analysis and research studies.
To ensure seamless accessibility for those with special needs, organizations in the connected device space must establish a dedicated unit to conduct test validations. This should cover APIs, message integrators, information technology and operational technology (IT-OT) convergence, data analytics, field-level testing, security, interoperability, and user experience. Leveraging various accelerators, organizations can reduce the time-to-market. These accelerators include the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile testing platforms, accessibility and API/microservices testing tools, security assurance measures, network impact assessment, as well as customer experience tools. Such tools prove invaluable when covering the diverse testing requirements for validating quality of a connected device.