The life of disabled people has drastically improved through technological advances and their mobility outside of the home has increased in leaps and bounds, to such an extent where the technology could well benefit the able-bodied as well.
Sports, and especially extreme sports, have always pushed technology forward: in the audiovisual industry, it is the Football World Cup coverage in 2014 that convinced many broadcasters to make the shift to 4K for capture and transmission.The IEC does a lot work in those areas under the supervision of IEC TC 100: Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment. Likewise, specific individual performances can lead to the testing of new technology in the area of wearables and tracking devices, powered by sensors. The IEC is equally very active in pushing standards for sensor technology, most notably through IEC TC 47 : Semiconductor which produces International Standards for the design, use and reuse of sensors as well as measuring and testing equipment. But just as important is the work of TC 124: Wearable electronic devices and technologies which deals with standardization in the field of wearable electronic devices, edible materials and devices and electronic materials and devices.
Philippe Croizon, a precursor
An important push is also taking place in the world of disabled sport, where accessibility and ease of use are some of the key drivers. Philippe Croizon’s recent sporting feats have pushed the envelope for disabled athletes, most notably his performance on the Paris-Dakar race at the beginning of the year: the quadriplegic athlete used a specially designed car adapted by a French automotive company renowned for its cutting edge technology, tailoring every day and racing cars to disabled requirements. Among the features of the specially designed buggy are an automatic gear box and hydraulic power steering. Thanks to the technology, coupled with Croizon’s extraordinary resilience, mental strength and state of physical fitness, the disabled athlete reached the finish line of this incredibly gruelling 14 day race, a feat many able bodied drivers did not achieve. “Automatic gearboxes for buggies used on the Paris-Dakar did not exist. But we asked Freddy Valade from Off Road Technology based in the Vendée region of France to create one and he did in a period of four months. He was one of our key mechanics on the Dakar race,” Croizon explains.
According to Croizon, disabled performances like his are becoming more standard, as technology evolves. “There were three paraplegic athletes on the Dakar, in addition to me. One was driving a truck. Technology is moving so fast, most notably in the area of limb replacements and exoskeletons that I predict that in 10 to 15 years from now, trauma-based handicap will no longer exist!”
In his everday life he uses an electronically controlled car, equipped with technology developed by a Swiss company, which includes for instance the Abi Loader automatic wheelchair loading system. At the flick of a switch, Abi Loader opens the rear hatch of the car and delivers the wheelchair directly to the car door. A second press of the switch folds the Abi Loader back into the car while one transfers to the wheelchair, even closing the rear hatch behind itself.
The use of programmable electronic circuits, for instance remote controlled, comes into the realm of TC 61 which oversees standardization about the safety of household and virtually any other electrical appliances, but also of TC 72: Automatic electronic controls, which has to do in part with automatic electrical control devices.
By Catherine Bischofberger
Continue reading in our e-tech here.