Its International Convention for Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology (i-Create) will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Singapore from April 24-26.
The conference is being held in conjunction with the 1st Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and will combine work on helping disabled work effectively with work on helping them become as able as possible.
What I find most significant about the conference is that a story on it appeared at ChannelNewsAsia. This is a business paper, focused on manufacturing and sales channels. And this is where I think much of the focus needs to go.
One of the biggest problems in this area is a shortage of channels. Because few companies sell assistive technology, and few people are trained to support it, costs are unbelievably high, even for things which are very simple to make. At the same time, researchers who are creating solutions have little contact with either entrepreneurs or manufacturers, especially low-cost manufacturers, who can help them address the mass market.
Assistive technology is, in fact, a mass market that is treated as a small niche. Once you consider the millions around the world who can take advantage of this technology, and the potential gains from this, it becomes obvious. This is not an American or a European market problem, but a worldwide problem. One which demands a worldwide solution.
Hopefully the Singapore conference will be a step toward gaining such a solution.