Society problems

Advanced technology “gadgets” help improve the lives of vulnerable groups in society

Ti Gong

“Medical robots” designed and manufactured by Shanghai-based Fourier Intelligence have been exported to more than 30 countries and regions.

There is a Chinese proverb that says “It takes at least 100 days to recover from a broken bone”. Well, that was not the case for Zhu Ruihua.

The elderly Shanghai resident broke her leg after a fall. Instead of being immobilized for three months, she recovered for only two weeks after the operation with the help of artificial intelligence robots.

“There are different modes on this machine that can help improve my leg movement. It’s really helpful,” Zhu told CCTV News.

Its story is typical of how cutting-edge technologies are improving the lives of people with disabilities, the elderly, and people with serious health conditions, all facilitated by the active participation of technology companies.

They improve and modernize accessibility and services for vulnerable groups, covering smart devices, smartphones, computers, smart homes and digital entertainment. And they develop the designs and interfaces used in these gadgets.

The “medical robots” used by Zhu were designed and manufactured by Shanghai-based Fourier Intelligence, which has exported the robots to more than 30 countries and regions.

Advanced technology “gadgets” help improve the lives of vulnerable groups in society

Exoskeleton and rehabilitation robot developed by Fourier Intelligence

Leveraging smart robotics, smart actuators, sensors, machine learning and proprietary control algorithms, the company has developed a smart healthcare robotics platform, called RehabHub, that delivers digital healthcare tailored to revolutionize the rehab industry.

“The rehabilitation market has significant technology adoption potential,” said Alex Gu, founder and CEO of Fourier Intelligence.

“China is seeing a growing demand for rehabilitation services with an aging population, an increased number of patients with chronic diseases and development of rehabilitation in clinics,” Gu said.

China’s seventh national census conducted in 2020 shows the number of Chinese on the mainland aged 60 or older reached 264.02 million, or 18.7 percent of the total population. This is 5.44 percentage points higher than the level in 2010 when the sixth census was taken.

It is a challenge but an opportunity to develop the “silver economy”.

With a positive market outlook, Fourier Intelligence received 400 million yuan ($59 million) in funding in January, the investment led by Softbank and backed by Saudi Aramco and Yuanjing Capital.

Advanced technology “gadgets” help improve the lives of vulnerable groups in society

Ti Gong

A Chinese version of the “Inclusive Design Handbook” has been published to boost accessible technology.

Shanghai is establishing itself as an international digital hub in line with the city government’s digital strategy.

The plan also includes the development of digital tools specifically for elderly care, according to city officials.

Compared to hardware, more and more tech giants care about accessible design and interface during the initial development of devices. The market potential is in the millions of customers.

In May, Microsoft China, Xiaomi, and Shanghai Youren Foundation, a nonprofit that helps disability groups, announced a partnership to promote the concept of inclusive design and accessible technology.

They jointly released a Chinese version of the “Inclusive Design Handbook”, adapting Microsoft and Xiaomi design practices for millions of users of systems, software, smartphones and smart devices.

The first phase of the collaboration will allow 1,000 developers to learn and implement the concept of accessible design.

The three parties will also provide digital skills training for people with disabilities to expand their employment opportunities.

“We hope to leverage the power of these two technological powerhouses and combine it with our own rich experiences to enhance the information accessibility skills of ICT industry practitioners, improve digital skills and competitiveness. employment of people with disabilities, and help them better integrate into society,” said Fu Gaoshan, director of the Shanghai Youren Foundation.

“The concept of accessibility is no longer limited to the physical sense,” said Ahmed Mazhari, president of Microsoft Asia.

“Digital skills are needed in all aspects of life. In Asia, especially China, the digital economy is booming and the demand for accessibility is even greater.”

The “Inclusive Design Handbook” is the first such guide published in China. It seeks to encourage products that reduce barriers to the participation of all groups in society.

Accessible features for special groups are already present in Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Mac products.

People with limb issues use an Apple Watch with AssistiveTouch. iPads support third-party eye-tracking hardware for easier control. For blind and visually impaired communities, Apple’s VoiceOver screen reader will use in-device intelligence to explore objects in images.

Apple China has also hired visually and hearing impaired people at Apple Stores in Shanghai and other cities across the country. They offer training and services to users with disabilities and the elderly.

Some Apple China employees, including at its Apple Stores in Beijing and Suzhou, are graduates of Gallaudet University, the world’s first comprehensive private university for the deaf and hard of hearing.