students and teacher gathered around a laptop at table

Tech Trends: What Else Is New?

As noted in our recent articles “Let’s Appreciate AI” and “VestLife: The Latest News,” the newest generation of artificial intelligence promises to be a major factor in improving assistive technology. AI can “teach” devices and apps to:

  • Answer health-related inquiries more accurately than traditional search engines, and generate more focused results.
  • Organize, and enable quick access to, health information.
  • Anticipate accessibility barriers with information about a specific individual’s disabilities.
  • Outline daily schedules, Individualized Education Programs, or suggested workplace accommodations.
  • Read other people’s emotional cues for users with autism or visual impairments.
  • Translate neurotypical speech into neurodiverse-friendly language.
  • Generate captions by “reading” a speaker’s lip movements.
  • Suggest more professional (or more tactful) text to people who struggle with written communications.
  • Improve augmentative and alternative communications to eliminate speech-to-text and text-to-speech delays—not only in general conversation, but also in person-to-person interactions between service people and customers.
  • Provide respite for caregivers and greater independence for disabled people, by performing organization/reminder/watch-and-alert tasks that were once exclusively human responsibilities.
man with laptop sitting on lap with phone in left hand

AI-Based and AI-Enhanced Apps

Many popular or up-and-coming apps are already implementing the latest in artificial intelligence. Here are just a handful of examples.

  • Adobe now includes generative (content-generating) AI in its software features.
  • Amazon Alexa and Siri can anticipate user needs, offer suggestions, and work with ChatGPT. (New, built-in generative AI is currently in development for Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.)
  • Otter: Transcribe Voice Notes uses AI to convert recordings to text.
  • Seeing AI, which describes surroundings to users with visual impairments, can also learn to recognize faces and emotions.
  • Wonder AI edits digital photos according to request (e.g., see what you look like as a manga cartoon or stunt pilot).
female sitting in office using laptop and phone to ear

Some Other Tech Trends to Watch

Finally, a quick peek at what else technology is doing toward enhancing our lives in the near future:

  • Hyperdimensional computing is being developed to make AI more energy-efficient, understandable, and “open-minded.”
  • New assistive technology for inclusive workplaces includes “intelligent alert” systems to anticipate disruptions; mouse devices that can be operated by head movement; and headphone mics with “instant mute” switches.
  • Lyft has introduced Women+ Connect, the first rideshare feature that allows users to request a driver/rider of matching gender.
  • The latest in personal-care devices: Samba Robotic Toothbrush, guaranteed to deliver a healthy cleaning even for users with limited hand-muscle control. Check out the Samba promotional video.
  • Sustainability, eco-friendliness, and other social concerns are also influencing up-and-coming tech. Watch for new developments in electric vehicles, recycling, and smart HVAC/electrical/watering systems that use the exact amount needed and no more.

Options will continue to expand and improve. Watch this blog for future tech highlights!

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