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An innovation that changed lives of the differently-abled  

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By Shivansh Mahendru

Many people in this world suffer from diseases, while others get injured during accidents. 

Despite everything, most of these people have the will to live, thrive and enjoy the right to be able to speak, see and have physical mobility. As a society, we endeavour to help these people with special needs, but often we lack either the idea or the resources to do so efficiently.

While reading about the humanitarian efforts done worldwide, in my quest, I came across the biography of one such person named David Eagleman. He is a neuroscientist at Stanford University, an engineer by profession and a humanitarian by heart. To solve the problem of the hearing-impaired individuals, and to get them to enjoy the humming sounds of Nature, he invented a device which would aid them in experiencing its beauty.

Mr. Eagleman, who now lives in California, USA,  realised that the hearing impaired  rely only on their eyes to communicate with others. According to him, if a person loses one of his senses the others tend to take over and become stronger. That’s the reason why people with hearing impairment can see better and those who are visually impaired can listen better. But, of course for them, an eye cannot be replaced with an ear.

And so, he was motivated to use his engineering skills to help them. He started his research in 2013 and it took him three years to come up with the idea of a wristband. It was in 2015 that he built this band, and the technology behind it was to capture the sound from our inner ear and break it into frequency which ships it to the brain. This frequency is transmitted to the brain by various tiny vibrations and then the brain senses it. Through it, people with hearing difficulties would be able to experience sounds.

He also co-founded a company in collaboration with Dr. Scott Novich, an electrical and computer science engineer and neuroscientist, in 2015, naming the company – Neo sensory. In his venture, he used this same technology to benefit the visually impaired too. Mr. Eagleman is still in the process of developing an app that will use echolocation techniques to sense the closeness of objects to ping them to the wristband, which in turn will generate frequencies and send them to the brain for processing.

To help autistic children, he is also creating an app that would translate their emotions into vibrations. With the help of such apps, the near and dear ones of these kids will be able to understand their emotions.

People like David Eagleman are true humanitarians and an inspiration to youth. The saying, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way,’ holds true for his expert initiatives. —

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