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Zeta-G
October 31, 2010, 10:51 PM
... the world.
IPad permits a mute, partially paralyzed child to learn and communicate with the world, when no other device could.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/nyregion/31owen.html
This story reminds me of this little number from the 80's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbJy0O4UFSM&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Take that clunky, poorly thought out UIs! ;)

Apple ][ - Computer is aimed at mainstream use for the first time (previous devices were mainframes and the like).
Macintosh - WIMP GUI and desktop metaphor make computer usable by far more people than the CLI.
NeXT (now a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple and at the heart of OS X & iOS) - technology used to create the WorldWideWeb (making the Internet usable).
Newton - first PDA and the ancestor of smart phones (later invented by Palm with the Treo).
iPod - makes the digital music player usable (earlier players had very crappy interfaces and were NOT very approachable as a result).
iTunes - pushes digital distribution mainstream by reinventing the music market, while dramatically lowering IP piracy.
iPhone - reinvents smartphone market by aiming for consumers instead of businesses; brings a multitouch + gestures based interface to the mainstream.
iPad - expansion of iPhone concepts into a fullblown computer, intuitively usable by 99% of humans with zero instructions; fastest adoption rate of an electronic device ever.

I decided to get the 800lb. gorilla out of the way, since Apple haters tend to forget about its many contributions to the field of computers (especially in the realm of usability). Others (with Google's Android OS being the latest) have ripped off all of these advancements (without improving on them) and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

This is not to say that other companies have never contributed to computers making a positive difference in the world; other companies have, and you are welcome to share information about them here. Just please remember to keep it focused on how they improved the usability/usefulness for users and do not get lost in geeky details/obsessions/philosophical debates that have no real relation to improving the lives of people through technology. (An example of what NOT to get into: the merits of FOSS vs proprietary software. On the other hand, the creation of the search engine would be an example of a technological advancement that has helped to improve lives).

Zeta-G
December 5, 2010, 12:52 PM
eReaders (iPad in this case), due to their adjustable font sizes, allow people with diminished eyesight to read books that would otherwise not be accessible to them.
Story: http://www.macworld.com/article/156170/2010/12/centenarian_ipad.html

Zeta-G
December 30, 2010, 4:42 PM
Quest Visual has a neat little augmented reality translation app for iOS (Sorry, Android, Palm, RIM, Windows Phone 7, and Nokia owners; they have said they are focusing on iOS for now). Using the camera of an iPhone 3GS, 4, or iPod Touch (generation 4) it does an on the fly translation of print text over the incoming video image in real time, with or without an Internet connection. It just translates the words, so the grammar might come out broken (depending on the language and sentence to be translated), but it's a good start.
For now it's just English to Spanish and vice versa (yay, Spanish... :roll: ), but they plan on using the tech to add support for additional European languages, before moving on to languages from other parts of the world. Suffice it to say, should they ever make it to Japanese (with kanji, hiragana, and katakana text support), I'll be buying a lot of Gundam manga from Amazon Japan (Hello, Crossbone Gundam! :D).
Website: http://questvisual.com/