How Robotics Improves Quality of Life for People Living with Disabilities

Did you remember to lock the front door? Don’t forget the living room needs vacuuming. I think you left your A/C running on 68.

Okay, calm down. Breathe slowly. You don’t need reminding that our daily routines are punctuated by these little moments of uncertainty and occasional panic. While the good news is that certain technologies can take on the “heavy lifting” of our more tedious and monotonous tasks, the value of these technologies is predicated on the dependence of the person using them. What happens when an individual no longer has the independence that we so often take for granted? Mundane things like going upstairs to grab those keys can quickly become a challenging and daunting task.

Whereas assisted living and personal healthcare providers can be prohibitively expensive, robotics solutions can fill in these gaps as a technology-based alternative for people with living with disabilities. Extending its reach into this niche, yet growing community of consumers, technologies like Kinesis Assist seek to optimize user independence and quality of life while narrowing the gap between disability and independence. Kinesis Assist has already been tested with technologies like Kinova’s JACO robotic wheelchair-mounted manipulator, which is frequently used to provide assistance to chair users.

A Growing Need  

In 2017, when Pew reported that 40 million Americans were living with a disability, an estimated 20 million of these cases involved issues with mobility. While the wheelchair is the most popular apparatus for such disabilities, several issues can stem from their use, such as navigating hard to reach areas and one’s limited reach from the chair. Certainly, some of these challenges can be mitigated through the use of technology.

Sensors & Sensibility

While technologies such as Alexa and Siri can aid in daily chores or help with reminders, Kinesis Assist can be coupled with hardware such as a JACO to enable the physical extension of the user. With simple gestures on a smartphone-based app, Assist leverages available robotic solutions to extend the capabilities of the user while minimizing the fatigue and stress associated with such tasks.

A New Face for Hope

Robotics coupled with Kinesis Assist offers a cutting edge and affordable alternative for individuals with disabilities.  It isn’t naive or utopian to imagine a future in which capable and sophisticated robotics help restore the autonomy and independence of millions of people. Technologies like Kinesis Assist hold the promise and potential to help people with disabilities perform their daily tasks right now.
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