Assistive technology is changing what’s possible in the world of accessibility and mobility. Innovation in the field means exhilarating new horizons, including creating customized and fashionable products that support mobility. While using things like wheelchairs or medical devices is a necessity for many, technology can make this experience more fun and empowering.
Here are six fashion-forward assistive technologies that prove any device can be runway-ready.
1. Eye-catching eyewear
Some eye-catching innovations are coming to the world of eyewear. Online retailers are becoming a popular option for those who need glasses and offer a modern shopping experience with features like personalized recommendations or virtual try-ons. Full-rimmed frames are a popular fashion trend at the moment, with many bold and colorful looks that turn eyewear into a fashion statement.
Even though there are plenty of options available for flashy eyewear, more people who need vision correction are turning to contact lenses.
If a pair of snazzy frames aren’t your favored solution, fear not. You can browse color contact lenses from retailers like 1 800 Contacts to switch up your look in the way that others might do with glasses. In the past, it was difficult to find fashion contacts that fit comfortably and perform to prescription standards. You can now find colored contacts with all the features and quality you would expect from traditional vision correction contacts.
Contacts are often a more aesthetic approach to corrective eyewear than glasses. Glasses can cause distortion and might not be practical in some situations, while contacts can correct vision in a way that feels more natural. Some people prefer glasses because contacts are uncomfortable or hard to insert and remove. However, contact manufacturers are exploring new materials and designs to address these common issues.
Some innovations make contacts easier to use. Manufacturers are using new materials to create thin contacts that move with your eye in a way that feels natural. These new contacts are easier to insert, and some products come with features that prevent dropping or hydrating the tear film. You can even find contacts with multiple correction zones.
2. 3D printed wheelchairs
With 3D printing, manufacturing customized products is easier than ever. Assistive technology makes it cost-effective to manufacture small runs or unique products. Professionals can also use Computer-Aided Design to create prototypes. There are many applications for 3D printing in healthcare with customized implants, surgical tools, or replicas of organs. There is a new generation of mobility products that is emerging.
GO Wheelchair is a company that created a wheelchair prototype with some 3D-printed components. There is a TPU seat and a metal footrest that feature a sturdy and lightweight construction. With 3D printing, it’s possible to make components adapted to each user to enhance comfort and offer new customization options in different colors.
And because 3D printing allows manufacturers to create lattice structures, it’s possible to design lightweight components that enhance comfort and breathability.
3. The future of mobility is electric
Electric wheelchairs and personal mobility devices aren’t new. However, innovations in battery technology are making these vehicles more viable than ever.
While patients in need of a wheelchair can benefit from batteries with longer ranges, the use of electric mobility vehicles is spreading to the general population. Products like electric scooters and e-bikes could transform mobility in urban spaces and help us adopt an eco-friendly alternative to driving cars.
Plus, these personal mobility devices come with built-in tech that can optimize battery usage or allow users to interact with some features via an app. Some manufacturers use assistive technology to design wheelchairs with built-in pressure management features to improve comfort or wheelchairs that enable users to adjust their sitting angle or even stand upright.
4. A new generation of crutches
Fashion might not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of crutches, but new materials and new design practices open new possibilities. For many people who need help with mobility, carrying a crutch is something they do daily. Why not turn this item into a fashion accessory?
A growing number of manufacturers are offering crutches in a wide range of colors and designs. Some crutches even have components that you can swap out to match your outfit of the day.
There are also innovations in the designs used. Some modern crutches feature forearm platforms that you can adjust, ergonomic grips, and new lightweight materials. These new crutches do a better job of distributing weight more evenly and releasing pressure.
It’s a market where 3D printing could also allow manufacturers to offer crutches with a personalized fit.
5. Adaptive clothes and fashion
Most people don’t have the necessary skills to make DIY clothes. Consumers have to rely on clothing manufacturers to look their best, and in some cases, to find adaptive garments. The world of adaptive clothing is changing at a rapid pace. In the past, brands primarily offered adaptive clothes for the elderly and prioritized comfort over style.
There are now more options than ever. Brands are still using things like snap closures, Velcro fasteners, and cutaway designs to offer clothes that adapt to a wide range of mobility challenges, but consumers have access to fashionable options. It’s easier than ever to find professional, wheelchair-friendly clothes that don’t compromise on personal style.
6. Smart hearing aids
Hearing aids are becoming more discreet and performing thanks to new technology. The latest generation of hearing aids can analyze your environment and adjust its settings automatically. Whether you’re outside, having a one-on-one conversation, or participating in a video call, your hearing aids can adapt.
Some models also come with connectivity features. Users can typically personalize and adjust settings as needed via a Smartphone app that gives them more control over their experience with this assistive technology.
Assistive technology has the power to change lives, not only by creating new ways of helping people with mobility challenges but also by incorporating fashion into everyday mobility products. Innovations in design, materials, 3D printing, and battery technology give way to a new generation of assistive products that transform the way people think about mobility.
More innovations will appear soon as some products become mainstream and more manufacturers decide to elevate their products into the world of individual expression.