In India, 2.8 million people live with disabilities, according to the Census records provided by the government. Despite this, there are still homes and public spaces in the country that do not provide footpaths, corridors, ramps, emergency exits and other accessibility features that are friendly to people with disabilities. Although the government, through the Accessible India Campaign, is trying to change this, it will take some time before every building or public space has accessible features. However, IoT for people with disabilities can be implemented quicker than doing things like installing special lifts or ramps.
IoT helps people with disabilities lead independent lives
Part of the reason why accessibility features or devices are so important is that they enhance independence for people with disabilities. IoT technologies help reduce the need for frequent movement as users perform their daily routines. It gives them the ability to use their gestures, voices and smartphones to control things in their homes with little to no effort. For example, you can turn off smart lights such as Philips Hue bulbs using your voice or gestures.
Smart home devices are slowly but surely getting into the Indian market. In fact, about 16% of Indians already use a voice assistant speaker, and 36% use smart home devices, according to an article on The News Minute. Some smart home devices you can buy in India include TP-Link smart bulbs, Philips Hue smart bulbs, D-Link smart plugs, Ring Doorbell and more.
RFID chips for directions
There are IoT technologies that use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices to improve accessibility. These devices are microchips that are used to tag objects for automated identification. They can read things such as temperature changes and other fluctuations in an environment, and even communicate with personal assistants. Devices that are RFID enabled can help people who are visually impaired find their way to particular destinations. For example, if there are RFID capabilities in a building, your RFID device can help you find your destination using vibrations or voice notes.
Another great application of IoT is the use of internet connected wheelchairs that are still being developed by researchers. A connected wheelchair has a special sensor that can inform its user about the shortest path to a destination. This is extremely useful if the person using the wheelchair is in an area they are not familiar with and needs directions. One example is the wheelchair AT&T and Permobil developed back in 2015. The chair has GPS, can read seating and cushion pressure and is motorized. But a much cheaper version that uses sensors and GPS can be built by developers in India with support from the government.
Smart device alternatives
Since most people with disabilities live in rural areas and do not have sufficient disposable income, according to the 2011 Census, cheaper devices that use Arduino, a smartphone and sensors may act as alternatives. For example, Professors from the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Lovely Professional University, designed a smart trolley that uses only a Smartphone and Arduino.
The internet of things is still a new state of the art technology, not just in India, but the world at large. In other words, developers have not yet used this technology to its maximum ability. This means that there many exciting IoT technologies for people with disabilities that will be developed in the near future.