Our Favourite Mobility Innovations of 2016

Now that we’ve had a few days to recover from hectic, food-and-family filled holiday schedules, it’s finally time to take a deep breath and look back at 2016. For us, that means thinking about the changes that took place in the field of mobility: the improvements, innovations and ideas that worked towards improving mobility for all kinds of people. Overall, 2016 saw a rapid transformation in the speed of mobility innovations: from smarter cars to GPS footwear, mobility products across many markets are becoming better, cheaper and more accessible. Thanks to the speed of development, more and more people can take advantage of game-changing mobility technology. Although there were many mobility innovations to pick from, here our top 6 from 2016.

1. Audi Fit Driver System

According to Audi, the Audi Fit Driver System’s goal is to “provide the optimal driving experience, custom-tailored to the current condition of the driver.” Sounds pretty generic—but in fact, Audi have come up with a unique solution that puts health and wellbeing first in a fluid, integrated way. A wearable watch tracks your vital parameters, such as heart rate, tension, tiredness level, and transmits that information to the car. In response, the car adjusts its functionality to best accommodate the driver’s current condition—whether that means reducing stress levels or improving concentration. Although meant for people of all ages, the Audi Fit Driver particularly holds positive implications for people with unstable mobility issues: no matter what problems you’re suffering from, the Fit Driver will respond to your body, so you can get you where you need to go.

So far, the Audi Fit Driver is only available in Germany—but considering the positive response Audi has gotten for it, we’ll probably be seeing this car in other countries soon.

2. Arctic Grip Footwear Technology

For most of us, stumbling over an icy sidewalk after a snow day is pretty annoying—but for people with mobility issues, a slip and fall can have serious health implications. That’s why Vibram’s Arctic Grip Footwear Technology is such a necessary innovation, especially for those of us who live in snowier areas: it makes walking on ice feel exactly like taking a walk on a sunny day. The shoes feature lugs with sole technology that’s grippy on ice as well as thermochromatic lugs, which sense when temperatures drop and change color to warn their wearers. It’s the most advanced grip technology on a walking shoe out there—and luckily, it’s already available for purchase.

3. The Genworth R70i Aging Experience

2016 saw the rise of virtual reality, with out-of-body experiences being used for everything from gaming to relationship building. However, it was also used specifically to generate understanding around mobility needs: The Genworth R70i Aging Experience makes you feel what it’ll be like to move around in the world when you’re a senior. By putting you in a sensory suit, the GRAE simulates what it’ll be like to walk, see, hear and speak when you’re aging and possible suffering from health issues, like blurred vision or muted hearing. By giving people an ‘aging experience’, Genworth aims to realistically prepare them for what’s to come in their futures—so they can start making smart decisions about their mobility earlier on in life.

4. Quell

When it comes to treating chronic pain, people generally think of three options: over-the-counter medicine, physiotherapy or even surgery. However, what if there was a solution that was less costly or life-changing, easy to use and free of side effects? Enter Quell—a new wearable from of pain relief that primarily treats back pain, arthritic pain, nerve pain and leg and foot pain. A band that you wear on your upper calf, Quell disrupts your body’s natural pain relief response by blocking the pain signals in your body through stimulation of sensory nerves. You can also download the app, which lets you monitor changes in your stress levels, sleep patterns etc. since using Quell—but even without the app, 81% of users report feeling pain significant pain reduction. Now that’s effective!

5. Al-Pro Framing Hammer

Few things are more frustrating than failing at hammering something into the wall. Whether the nails you’re using are wrong, the wall is too tough or the hammer is too heavy for you to use properly, it can be infuriating—and potentially impossible to master for those with arthritis or other physical issues affecting their upper body strength and grip. Luckily, the construction equipment company Estwing decided to solve this setback with their new AL-Pro Hammer. Made from forged aircraft aluminum alloy – a material much lighter than the regular Titanium – it’s easy for you to handle, but send a vibration dampening shot to nail heads so max force hits them every time. Plus, there’s a magnetic nail starter in the head to make aiming accurately a piece of cake. So whether you’re suffering from chronic hand pain or have failed at hanging up art on your walls one too many times, Estwing has finally made the solution for you.

6. ReSound Hearing Aids

When you think of hearing aids, a few stereotypes probably come to mind. Clunky, definitely; ineffective, perhaps; old-fashioned. However, ReSound’s latest hearing aids, LINX2, break those stereotypes with impressive elegance: the company’s new hearing aids are tiny, sleek, and integrated with the tech elements of your life. The aids themselves are made of ultra-durable technology that’s also water and dust resistant, but most excitingly, they connect to your gadgets. You can hook up your iphone or ipad to the hearing aids—so taking a phone call, listening to music and hearing the world when you’re out on a walk becomes a fluid experience for those with hearing difficulties. Best part: it’s all controlled by a smartwatch on your wrist which lets you control various elements, such as how much you can focus on someone talking, or how much wind you hear on a cold day at the beach. For hearing aids that actually aid all parts of your life, look no further.