Imagine a world where the visually-impaired can get around on their own with the help of an app. Or mothers of first-generation students alerting the government about the lack of required facilities in their child’s school through their mobile phone. Once seemingly impossible things are now becoming possible, thanks to the huge potential of technology for social good. Not only is it enhancing the work of development groups globally, it also empowers people right from grassroots with tools to better their lives.
Here are seven promising early innovations in the healthcare and education sector whose tech-based solutions are addressing critical gaps for the country’s Base of the Pyramid (BoP) population. These innovations were showcased at the recent NASSCOM CSR Leadership Conference 2016 –
Uber Diagnostics Pvt. Ltd. – Globally, over 1.8 million people are at risk from cardiovascular disease-related ailments. If diagnosed early and treated, a life-threatening event can be avoided. However, inaccessible and unaffordable healthcare make this a challenge. Uber’s CardioTrack is a low-cost, portable, hand-held 12-lead ECG monitor that capitalises on the power of cloud-based IT infrastructure to deliver diagnostics anywhere in the world, instantaneously.
Sohum Innovation Labs India Pvt. Ltd. – According to Sohum Innovation, approximately five lakh babies worldwide are born with hearing loss. And one in five of them is born in India. Lack of affordable solutions to treat congenital hearing loss makes the situation worse, with babies battling the unfortunate consequences of a treatable ailment for life. Sohum’s low-cost screening device can diagnose infants with such hearing impairments at an early stage, thereby allowing timely treatment and rehabilitation.
GingerMind Technologies Pvt. Ltd. – With over 35 million visually-impaired people across the world and no notable assistive technology available, Eye-D was built to enrich their quality of life by empowering them with outdoor navigation, right from the nearest ATM to a remote village, all with an audio-based app.
Innovision – While Eye-D is making successful inroads with outdoor navigation, Innovision’s BrailleMe is a low-cost electronic Braille reader for the visually impaired that can be connected to smartphones, tablets or PCs, allowing people to read and write in Braille electronically, and finally making an inclusive digital age possible.
Theertha Info Solutions Pvt. Ltd. – According to ASER reports, numeracy levels are sharply declining every year and there is a dire need for alternative methodologies. Theertha’s Edukit, a kit of nine CD-ROMs utilises Vedic math techniques (recognised world over for being systematic, simplified and unified), combined with gaming and animation, to make learning math easy for elementary children. The entire course is designed to be completed in just 18 months and costs Rs 1,000 per year.
vChalk Education Pvt. Ltd. – In India, a sizeable school-going population is failing to meet minimum learning standards due to lack of qualified teachers or inability to provide additional attention. Working towards being a part of larger school remedial programme, vChalk designs activity-based modules for children from Class III to V, as well as tracks the progress and performance of individual students. The programme is currently running in six schools.
CfBT Education Services – CfBT’s mobile-based pictorial School Score card (SSC) is empowering illiterate mothers to engage meaningfully with their child’s academics by rating the school on a range of parameters such as infrastructure, teacher attendance, water and sanitation facilities etc. The collated information can be later accessed by the State government officials through their centralised server, to take measurable steps. CfBT is currently operational in over 400 schools in Andhra Pradesh.
As Steve Jobs once said, technology is just the medium – what matters more is what you do with it. Just as these innovators are doing!