Consider those who were affected in the earliest days of Covid. Isolated from loved ones, many relied on cloud-based platforms like Zoom to stay in touch. At the same time, those who needed non-emergency medical attention sought and used telehealth options in record numbers.
In other words, technology can be a friend just as much as it can be a foe. Certainly, it’s a handy scapegoat when things go awry. At the same time, it can be a valuable asset to achieve society’s overarching goals and create an improved quality of life for all people.
Below are a few of the key technical inventions that have benefited specific groups over the past few years. Each one is a testament to ‘beyond the box’ thinking.
1. Serving as a safe tech ‘bridge’ for young device users.
Children who belong to Generation Z and Generation Alpha wear a ‘tech native’ badge by default. Nonetheless, younger kids and preteens aren’t ready for the responsibilities that come with having full access to the Internet. It’s non-negotiable that they need to learn the skills necessary to navigate the web. They just shouldn’t be exposed to its temptations or dangers too young.
The answer to this conundrum may fall to devices that essentially bridge the gap between toys and full-blown, all-access technology. In his comprehensive review of the Gabb Wireless kids’ phone, tech journalist Brad Anderson acknowledges the advantages of parents buying a phone designed specifically for children. As he notes, Gabb Wireless’s Z2 includes texting, picture-taking, and calling capabilities. What it doesn’t include is access to the App Store or Internet.
Products like the Z2 show that thoughtful tech can be used to protect young people against the ‘wild west’ technologies they aren’t ready to face. This allows children to develop smarter tech habits and ease their way into the wider boundaries of the Internet.
2. Helping low-income families escape from the cycle of debt-related poverty.
Harvard University has been the incubator for plenty of inventions over the years. Consequently, it shouldn’t come as much surprise that a Harvard graduate has spent the beginnings of his career fighting poverty through the use of technology.
Leveraging the expertise he honed while at his alma mater, Rohan Pavuluri co-founded Upsolve. The nonprofit focuses on helping struggling low-income families determine whether or not to file for bankruptcy. Those who decide Chapter 7 bankruptcy could better their situation in the long run can go through the process online.
Pavuluri isn’t advocating Chapter 7 bankruptcy for all people whose debt has become overwhelming. Still, he believes Upsolve provides an affordable, equitable platform for those who could benefit from declaring bankruptcy. By making bankruptcy accessible to anyone, he believes his technological solution will give many individuals and families a fighting chance to beat poverty.
3. Opening doors for remote workers with disabilities.
Working from home got a huge boost during the pandemic—but not everyone can easily move from an office to a residential setting. For instance, workers with disabilities can face barriers to engaging with their colleagues or clients when they’re not at the workplace.
Take virtual meetings: How do you interact smoothly during videoconferences if you’re hearing-impaired? To tackle this problem, Zoom offers transcription services for both live and pre-recorded sessions. The transcriptions allow all participants to know what’s happening in real-time so the conversation can run smoothly. They’re not perfect, but they’re allowing teams to continue moving forward without friction.
Like many emerging markets, creating more exclusive work-from-home environments for workers with disabilities is gaining traction. From making biometrics more inclusive to developing training sessions that meet the needs of all participants, the field is ripe for more tech-driven products and services to broach occupational obstacles.
Kids. Low-income families. Remote workers with disabilities. They’re all benefiting from clever applications of technology. So while tech may get a bad rap from time to time, it’s doing some serious good.