Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

State-Of-The-Art Technology For the Physically Impaired

How lovely.

For the physically challenged -- either with vision disabilities or otherwise -- the advent of new technologies in the 21st century become much more exciting and interesting. Dozens and dozens of new innovative designs are coming up, maverick innovations via artificial intelligence and state-of-the-art creations to have physically-challenged denizens stand side by side with other more fortunate individuals , and be at par with them whether it be in the workplace, the business arena, in the education field. Thanks to upcoming young tech designers , too, who are coming up with their genius innovations, giving equal opportunities for all.

Rubik Cube For the Blind


Designed by Zhiliang Chen, the new Rubik Cube comes with six different basic materials : including metal, wood, textile, rubber, plastic and stone. And with these different textures, the better for the visually-impaired to have a "good feel" on playing this genius' vexing game.

The young designer Chen, a Hong Kong-based industrial designer dubbed by tech vigilants as the "design llama" fell under what he calls his "Touch and Play Design" for the blind, winning a 2006 IF Concept Award. Players of this "simple yet attractive" toy for the visually-challenged have them feeling each square segment on the cube and matching them up based on texture--a task . And that may be harder than the original.

Braille E-Book


"EAP is a technology that can dynamically change the surface pattern by way of an electromagnetic signal - simulating Braille text. Thus developing a Braille E-Book doesn’t seem a tall order. Not only will it be easy to carry, but also cut down on the thick Braille books. Not exactly a new idea but a nice executive nonetheless."

A Korean designer team composed of Seon-Keun Park, Byung-Min Woo, Sun-Hye Woo & Jin-Sun Park created this innovation, making it very handy for the blind to read books, in digital compact form. Before the braille e-book, translating a 500-page book into braille could double its thickness, cost, and would put a great deal of inconvenience. With this technology, the blind are abled to do away with paper book hassles, and riding on with modern digital reading via the Braille E-book reader. Next invention in the offing: bedtime stories via the Braille E-Book for visually-challenged kids.

Bright F by Lifeng Yu


For both the blind and the color-blind: this could help you with your fashion sense and color combinations, if you have the fashion IQ of , er, a Betty La Fea.

The Bright F, designed by Lifeng Yu, translates the variations and differences of colors for the visually impaired through sounds: detecting the brightness, saturation, and the color hue, and even sorting through similar colors and organizing them in similar tones. Great for washing chores , too: helps in separating the whites from the coloreds. Its LED feature lights the object and shows the normal color through sounds, also with an "identification system button," a "learning system button" and even a speaker with adjustable volume --- minus the shrills, especially for the hearing-sensitive blind individuals.

The Braille Labelmaker

"When the (visually) disabled drink beverages, they do not know what they are drinking, nor the price of paper money that they are holding, nor the food seasoning that they are putting on their food," says the new product's Korean designers, Soonkyu Jang, Jieun Seo & Seung-un Kim. "We invented this special product to help and to improve the quality of lives of disabled people who live alone... this will give a hand to them, to have a better life."

And so with these sticker labels, with the use of the Braille Labelmaker which is simple and user-friendly, especially for the visually-impaired who "only know and see the world through Braille", a great help to make their lives much easier.

Outta Sight Camera!

Not surprising at all : Chinese designer Chueh Lee over at Samsung China who designed “Touch Sight” camera , touted as the "world's first camera for the visually-challenged", has won worldwide raves, not to mention a lot of exuberant media hype.

Chueh notes:

“Touch Sight is a revolutionary digital camera designed for visually impaired people. Simple features make it easy to use, including a unique feature which records sound for three seconds after pressing the shutter button. The user can then use the sound as reference when reviewing and managing the photos. Touch Sight does not have an LCD but instead has a lightweight, flexible Braille display sheet which displays a 3D image by embossing the surface, allowing the user to touch their photo. The sound file and picture document combine to become a touchable photo that is saved in the device and can be uploaded to share with others–and downloaded to other Touch Sight cameras.”

The camera is positioned at the individual's forehead, more like positioned at the "third eye", with simple functionalities. Chueh also maintains that the visually-impaired will have no trouble as to sensing distances and figuring out lighting, since they will be using their non-visual senses.

Chueh further says: "Their sense of hearing is especially sharp, every rustle of wind in the trees catches their attention and can be used to judge distances. Other senses come into play as well. The heat of the sun or a lamp in a living room, for example, signals a direct source of light. They regularly use their non-visual senses to feel the world and manifest it into a mental photograph.”

Sens Phone

A creation by Japanese designer Takumi Yoshida, this one is for "the nearly blind" , features lighted sides which help convey different alert messages, with state-of-the-art designing via more tactile keys in its keyboard arrangement, "distinguishable not only for the blind but for anyone trying to interact with this device."

The Braille Interpreter

Contrary to common assumption that all visually-impaired individuals are knowledgable with Braille, this invention are for these disabled folks. Enter the Braille Interpreter designed by Hyung Jin Lim: a single-finger white glove with a tactile sensor, making use of bluetooth technology-guided headphone and interpreting software.

"The index finger portion of the glove hosts the said tactile sensor. Skim it over the Braille surface and it sends a feed to the main device housed on the back of the glove. The feeds are then interpreted and beamed to the headphone via Bluetooth as voice data."

Dubbed as having the "Skim-Interpret-Hear Voice" feature, it provides a nifty enough solution for those who can’t cope with Braille.

Designer Nike Prosthetics by Colin Matsco

"3D printing has become an incredibly powerful tool to customize one-off products for differing applications. This project was based on using this technology to design a customized prosthetic leg for a specific user- a young, urban, male athlete. Nike was chosen as an appropriate brand to bring form to the leg. It also required familiarizing oneself with the emotional, medical, lifestyle, and physical changes the user would encounter."

The Sens Watch Makes Sense


Designed by Frenchman Arnaud Lapierre, this prototype watch created in conjunction with Swatch with a beautiful end result: a double ring ceramic device that tells time by touch called Sens.

"The 12 hour point is marked with braille so you can identify which way is up. The upper most ring tells you what hour it is simply by its distance from the 12 hour marker. The secondary clear ring is your alarm. It’s distance from the upper ring denotes how much time you have left to sleep. It’s also a way to set the alarm without having to see the device."

The Morphing Siafu-Magneclay: Computer for the Blind


While technology vigilantes are wondering why this morphing PC made of magneclay -- an oil based synthetic agent that possesses limitless morphing capabilities -- is named after an aggressive African Ant called Siafu, designer Jonathan Lucas is keeping mum about it.

YankoDesigns.com says : " Siafu is a PC designed to give people with vision loss or impairment a more intuitive computer experience. It lays flat like a tablet and allows the user to fully interact with it by way of touch. The surface utilizes a conceptual material called magneclay or magnetized liquid. This material has the ability to morph upward into any shape via a controlled electromagnetic field enabling the device to create a braille surface for reading and even pictures in 3D relief."

Siafu’s magneclay surface morphs into full spread Braille layouts, just like an e-book reader for the blind, forming a working 9-button Braille keyboard -- with the Braille output allowing the user to conveniently review what they just typed. Web pages are converted in a bas relief, active text onscreen is converted into translated Braille relief.

Also, a cute feature: it has a built-in microphone a built-in microphone, an option to typing: with its high performance voice recognition software , the user speaks into the mic , and the words are instantly processed into onscreen Braille relief. Goody.

YankoDesigns.com says: "Lucas’s design gives the blind a fair chance to explore the world of computers in a limitless way."

The Lumitact ( for breast cancer patients)

Designer Stephanie Choplin had breast cancer patients in mind with this invention, making use of technology to ease the pain of "losing a part of your femininity."

Choplin says: " “Lumitact” is a virtual and a tactile breast prosthesis. Made of luminous textile, observer can play with animated virtual entities. Animation give the feeling that the prosthesis is not sluggish any more. Luminescent shapes are continually moving lovingly. This movement is an invitation to touch and play sensually. The prosthesis extend from the breast to the hunch of the woman to guide the partner’s hand toward the whole body. A tender amorous game starts when e prosthesis is touched. The shapes slide softly toward the zone touched, like the shiver of a caress on the skin. The prosthesis is immobilized by an adherent system."

Lumitact , an adhesive, tactile breast prosthesis that integrates Phillips’ Lumalive material into its design. The come-on pitch : "Lumitact will make a woman feel self-confident, sexy and feminine once again."

The B-Touch Mobile Phone

Ten Innovative Designs To Help The Sight Impaired

The B-Touch , said to be "an 'iPhone-kinda phone' with a Braille interface, voice systems and programs to function as regular phone, navi-system, book reader and object recognizer" designed by Chinese Zhenwei You, has been getting the raves as "a revolutionary step and technological wonder in the field of communications."

A futuristic design and a futurist motif, with Braille touchscreen for interactive usage -- functioning as a regular phone, book reader and object recognizer --- and yes, heavy duty voice recognition system . This touchscreen cellphone for the blind gives positive proof : "Limitation of senses does not hinder the sensitivity of this phone coz it combines technologies of blind-touch screen (Braille), voice systems and programs to function as regular phone, navi-system, book reader and object recognizer".

Computer-Controlling Contact Lens

Okay, stop snickering: if you think that your contact lens -- so technologically advanced that it can help your eye movements navigate the computer controls and can double function as a mouse for your computer -- is quite ridiculous, think again. YankoDesigns.com says : "Although at the moment it may be hard to fathom this concept, but designers Eun-Gyeong Gwon & Eun-Jae Lee thought it was a novel idea ( designing a contact lens doubling as a mouse for your computer) . "It’s intended for people with disabilities, but that shouldn’t stop the able-bodied people from experimenting with it."

HOw it's supposed to work: the contact lens is inserted and used as a regular contact lens, but with a twist. Laced with sensors to track eye movement, it relays that position to a receiver connected to your computer, which is supposed to "give you full control over a mouse cursor." Mouse clicks via eye blinks?? Er, just pretend we're way ahead off to the 22nd century.

The Voice Stick

"The Voice Stick is an advance optical character recognition scanner designed to scan books and read to you in a pleasant voice. It converts texts in books, newspapers, contracts, mail, business cards, etc., into voice information," inventor Sungwoo Park says.

With a text scanner, memory chip and algorism system, character recognition technology , voice synthesizer technology (text to speech - TTS) , the voice stick is said to be "your best reading mate".

A portable text scanning device for the visually impaired, scanning letters and converting Braille to voice information, translated into audio and brought to the user via both character recognition technology and voice synthesizer technology. Just like a friend reading to you at your bedside when you're not feeling well.

The Visual Assistance Card


Kyle Lechtenberg, an Industrial Design grad from Auburn University, had whipped up this innovative product for the visually-impaired shopper: a debit/credit card for the blind, with private information regarding PIN numbers and all that kept as private. The Visual Assistance Card has Braille relief imprinted on it, making sure that the user keeps his personal information private, increasing their independence when shopping --- with no need for assistance from the counter cashier. "The Visual Assistance Card is light weight and can be easily stored out of the way until future use. Definitely designed for usability -- a must in today’s world."

No comments: