Thursday, March 26, 2009


               In business, analysts and investors are always looking for the next big thing.  A company with a lot of room for growth has the potential to do very well because it has room to expand and make a lot of money.  Enabling technologies is a rarely discussed industry in the mainstream media, giving it potential to be a diamond in the rough.  If researchers like Professor Bishop are able to create effective enabling technologies with reasonable price tags, there is the possibility for great upside for a worthy cause.  Imagine an extremely effective device developed for autistic children that falls within a reasonable price range.  If you were the parent of an autistic child, you would be very interested in purchasing this device.

The application of enabling technologies could act as an intellectual bridge between those of us who have disabilities and those of us who don’t.  Professor Bishop highlighted the example of Stephen Hawking, whose vast intellectual abilities are misrepresented by the physical challenges he faces in seemingly mundane activities like walking and talking.  One could also look at the case of Kim peek who can read a book in an hour and remember 98.7% of the book’s contents.  Although Kim has the ability to communicate, he does suffer from a rare cognitivie syndrome.  With technologies like Professor Bishop’s tarheel reader, a disabled child’s cognitive faculties could be stimulated resulting in an award winning author or poet.               

                The music applications of enabling technologies are also very intriguing. Children and adults with physical disabilities are extremely limited in mechanical movement and manual dexterity.  This limitations are usually extensive enough to prevent them from operating normal instruments like the guitar of piano.  However, these physical limitations offer no indication of one’s appreciation for music.  There could be scores of disabled patients with extreme musical intelligence but little opportunity for expression.  The chord chaoscillator that Professor Bishop demonstrated could have limitless applications for disabled patients. 

  Who knows the long-term cost benefit for enabling technologies.  There have been millions if not billions of people born throughout the course of history with cognitive or physical disabilities but what has been their contribution to society [through no fault of their own].  If enabling technologies increased the learning capacity or creative expression of disable patients by just 10% who knows what scientific discoveries could be made, what books could be written, or how many musicians could realize their true ability.  Perhaps if enough pioneers like Professor Bishop emerge, enabling technologies could become a viable and invaluable part of developed civilizations.  What other applications of enabling technologies could you imagine?  How likely is it that enabling technologies will become a formidable industry?

No comments:

Post a Comment