Veterans, especially war veterans, are immensely worthy of the respect that they garner from society. Time and again several policy changes have taken place, so that the lives of these veterans are easy and relatively uncomplicated. Elsewhere, OEMs of assistive technologies have come up with products which are brilliantly designed for the elderly and the disabled. As industry experts simplify and innovate new technologies for the disabled, a major segment of this demographic cannot be ignored. Ergo, veterans are prime clientele for assistive technology.
Assistive devices: Better lives for the disabled
Major names in the adaptive technology industry, like Sonova, GF Health Products, Sunrise Medical, etc. hold the opinion that solutions pertaining to motor neuron diseases, vision and reading aids, healthcare furniture, and mobility devices, are some of the assistive products which can positively impact the lives of veterans and the disabled.
Especially, products like Eyegaze Edge from LC Technologies, is designed to enable motor neuron disease patients to control a computer by just using their eyes. In a world where close to 4 lakh people suffer from motor neuron diseases, OEMs have infused big capital and resources in building assistive devices that will help patients with multiple sclerosis. Similarly, dbGLOVE, a special glove which turns movements and touch into electronic signals, help the deaf and blind to operate computers and smartphones on their own.
The modus operandi for almost all the major names in this particular industry is to choose a disability and convert it into an opportunity for product creation, innovation, and improvisation. What makes the assistive technology industry quite interesting for an analyst is the extent to which innovation has already taken place and the potential for more innovation. For instance, most vendors have clearly moved beyond wheelchairs and smart chairs– the focus now is on building devices that are a ‘natural’ extension of one’s body; thereby even removing the thought of being ‘disabled’ among the users.
Understanding the market, demand, and challenges for assistive devices
When seen from a commercial angle, despite immense demand and increasing number of disabled veterans, the OEMs are constantly struggling to get their products approved and launch in the global markets. Especially, in the EMEA and the APAC region, where no doubt there has been a spike in demand mainly due to increase in healthcare expenditure and disposable income, the terrain is still rocky thanks to all the medical red-tapes and extended approval cycles.
Industry majors like Invacare, William Demant Holding A/S, Google, and HP are already looking for ways to reach out to the regional stakeholders and disrupt the market to their sole advantage. Pricing strategy is an aspect that has gained a lot of traction for the simple reason that it is directly linked to the quality of the products as well. When reaching out to the veterans and the disabled, it is essential that the product– as wonderful as it might sound on paper– is packaged in a manner that meets their express needs as well as purchasing power. Predatory pricing might help in the short run, but quality will always have the final say!