Getting out and about with the ChatableApps team, I occasionally get to talk to people who really inspire me. Perhaps the most inspiring bunch are the Cochlear Implant community. Imagine the guts it takes to make that choice and get that operation and then try to imagine how strong you have to be to wake up on the day of switch-on and begin to learn how to hear again almost from scratch.
From the first cochlear implants in the 1960s and the later introduction of multi-channel implants in the late 1970s, the Cochlear Implant community has played a pivotal role in pioneering the application of the latest in available technology. CI devices have improved steadily over time to incorporate advances including digital sampling, digital signal processing and connectivity to phones and smartphones. However, one thing we’ve learned from talking to the CI community is that it often takes a very long time for tech advances to trickle down. For example, while the average man on the street has had access to Bluetooth for the last 20 years or so, Bluetooth has only recently come to the world of CI.
At least part of the reason for the time it takes for new technologies to trickle down to the CI community is that it can take a very long time to develop a new hardware product, rigorously test it, get it approved for surgical implantation and then get it into the marketplace. Once there, it can take a further several years before the medical community is up to speed on new devices or technologies and all this combined can easily explain why Bluetooth finally came to the world of CI some 20 years after the rest of the world had access to it.
At ChatableApps, we take accessibility very seriously and, in particular, our responsibility to make sure that the pioneering CI community are among the first to get access to brand new AI technology that might make their lives a little easier. In fact, given that a number of our early-adopter users are indeed from the CI community, this might be the first time in history that the CI community get their hands on cutting-edge technology ahead of the rest of the world. That feels like progress.