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Neurotechnology pioneers, please design with the end-user in mind

John Kemp, Pres­i­dent & CEO at The Vis­car­di Cen­ter and The Hen­ry Vis­car­di School in New York


The impor­tance of being seen, heard and under­stood for neu­rotech­nol­o­gy end-users (Cen­ter for Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy at Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton):

Today, when real­is­tic-look­ing pros­thet­ic hands with artic­u­lat­ing fin­gers are becom­ing more wide­ly avail­able, one of the first things many peo­ple notice about John Kemp is that he choos­es to use pros­thet­ic met­al clamps instead of hands.

These don’t look func­tion­al,” Kemp said, hold­ing up his clamps. “They’re high­ly func­tion­al. I wear these all day. I need func­tion. I need reli­able and durable equip­ment.”

Kemp, who was born with­out arms and legs, uses two leg pros­the­ses in addi­tion to his pros­thet­ic met­al hand-clamps. Although he could opt for high­er-tech solu­tions for his upper body, Kemp asserts that the clamps do every­thing he needs, and they have the added ben­e­fit of being more durable than most high-tech pros­thet­ic hands. Plus, he can fix his hand-clamps him­self if some­thing breaks, which is impor­tant for a man who reg­u­lar­ly trav­els the globe…

Kemp used his hand-clamps at the CNT’s August Prac­ti­tion­er and End-User Round­table as a metaphor describ­ing what many in the dis­abil­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty have expe­ri­enced when try­ing to find a pros­thet­ic that works well. High-tech solu­tions are not nec­es­sar­i­ly the right choice for every­one, and all too often neu­rotech­nol­o­gy is designed with­out care­ful­ly assess­ing the user’s wants and needs first.

The user expe­ri­ence has to be para­mount and has to be respect­ed,” Kemp said. “The engi­neer has to lis­ten very care­ful­ly to what the per­son [neu­rotech­nol­o­gy end-user] wants to do and not sub­sti­tute their judg­ment or desires for the per­son. Even if they dis­agree, they can­not sub­sti­tute. They have to fol­low what the per­son wants to do with their pros­the­ses. It’s about help­ing a per­son ful­fill their wish­es.”

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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