by Kel Smith
Despite our growing potential to augment human capability through technology, the innovation curve sometimes leaves behind people who could most benefit. We’ll call this group the “digital outcasts” (a term introduced by researchers from the University of Sussex), and they ironically reside at the epicenter of today’s most exciting developments.
On a purely grass-roots level, digital outcasts are taking it upon themselves to improve and sustain their success in life. They are doing this through personally customized solutions that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Interestingly, their efforts then contribute mightily to the same technological landscape that originally neglected them. For such an important (and growing) demographic, this represents a cultural sea change of increasing significance.
Participants of this session will explore the significance of digital outcasts in the creation of such emerging technologies as mobile apps, video games, personalized robotics and virtual worlds. Emphasis will be placed on products and services in the health sector, with recent case studies spanning multiple therapeutic contexts: blindness/low vision, long-term rehabilitation, oncology, physical therapy, degenerative disease, cognitive disorders and opioid-free pain management. Practical examples will include such platforms as the iPad, Nintendo Wii, haptic interfaces, virtual prosthetics, text-to-speech functionality, eye-tracking, adaptive mobile devices and Second Life.
Regardless of channel – at some point in their lives, everyone gets older and must enter the digital looking glass. This presentation will emphasize the importance of embracing universal design principles throughout development cycles, thus creating ambient, barrier-free benefit to consumers of all abilities and backgrounds.
1st–4th February 2012