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Every single minute of our modern lives is marked by a different creation that was probably unimaginable about a handful of years ago. How many of us really expected to have cars that spoke to us and told us where to go? Who would have thought one could print human organs that would be perfectly usable, even ten years ago? But the fact remains that it’s innovations like these that keep the wheels of the economy turning.
Here’s a selection of four inventions backed by huge social capital that hold immense promise for a better tomorrow…
Epilepsy is a debilitating disease that affects more than 50-million people around the world. From mild lapses of attention to severe convulsions and loss of consciousness that occur multiple times every day, seizures come in varying forms.
Currently epilepsy is primarily treated with a combination of various oral anti-epileptic drugs that control seizure activity in the brain. However, these AEDs are often ineffective on patients with advanced cases of the disease. Neuropace is a radical method of treating epilepsy patients that promises to prevent a seizure before it occurs.
Neuropace treats epilepsy by surgically implanting a neurostimulator in the region of the brain that is primarily affected by seizure activity. The neurostimulator records and transmits regular brain activity in this region to the patient’s doctor. When the device detects abnormal activity in the region, it provides a gentle pulse to that specific region of the brain and prevents a seizure from occurring. Tracey Drake was the first patient to receive the implant at the New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
So far, the hearing impaired had to rely on sign language and interpreters to communicate with the rest of the world. That’s about to change with the invention of MotionSavvy’s sign language translation device called the UNI. The device consists of a case that goes over a tablet and software that accompanies it.
When a hearing impaired person uses sign language to “speak” to somebody, the UNI device understands the sign language and translate it into words that can be heard aloud by other people around them. The device then converts words spoken by other people into text that can be read easily by hearing impaired individuals.
The product is currently in beta and is expected to hit shop shelves by fall this year. The most impressive part of this venture? The entire team, including the CEO of MotionSavvy is hearing impaired. Speak of disabilities that enable!
Sweet Bites Chewing Gum
We’ve all been told since childhood how candy will rot our teeth. Gum – chewing and bubble – were both frowned upon despite their endless time-passing potential. But all that is changing now with Sweet Bites, the chewing gum that is meant to fight tooth decay. Yes, that’s candy that’s actually good for your teeth.
Created as an Indiegogo project by a team of five students from the University of Pennsylvania, Sweet Bites is a smart example of social entrepreneurship that combines a simple medical insight with a social need. The chewing gum contains xylitol – a natural sugar substitute and decay fighting agent – that appeals to kids thanks to its attractive fruity flavors at costs that are affordable by low income communities. The gum is targeted at slum dwellers in developing countries where dental health is neglected and underfunded. The project was kick started on an experimental basis in Bangalore, India. The gum is sold to local organizations which distribute it in schools in low-income neighborhoods.
Beginning with the ExoHiker and the ExoClimber – devices that allowed hikers and climbers carry upto 200 lbs while they’re enjoying a hike or a climb, Ekso Bionics created the first commercial exoskeleton that can be used to rehabilitate medical patients. The Ekso is basically a bionic suit that when worn, allows people with various degrees of paralysis (including complete paralysis) or weakness in their limbs to get out of wheelchairs and walk by themselves.
The suit is already in use in rehab facilities and hospitals where patients are trained to walk again with the help of Ekso’s Step Generator software and the exoskeleton working in tandem. Lack of muscular function in a patient is replaced by battery power that helps the patient move forward. While attempts at building exoskeletons that were viable have been in the works for over a decade, the Ekso is the first example of an exoskeleton that has actually started treating individuals with disabilities.
While many of these inventions are funded by universities and government research centres, thousands of smart new devices and software created by everyday people and are launched on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or revealed at events like the INPEX Invention Show, which will be held in June this year.
Do you know of any more life-changing innovations? Or better, have you used any? Please share your experiences in the comments.