If you talk to your wheelchair, does it listen? This one can!!

May 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

MIT has done it again!  An earlier blog post I wrote was in regards to a levered wheelchair to assist with traversing difficult terrain in Africa. They are now currently working on a pilot robotic wheelchair that is operated through voice commands.  

This wheelchair is intended for those who may not have the physical mobility to utilize a standard joystick, and as well for those who may have progressive muscular diseases.  Not only will it operate from voice commands, because it is a robot it can learn the common routes a person takes throughout their day and carry them out via commands.  David Hatch, one of the designers and a retired engineer coping with Multiple Sclerosis says, “I like the idea of telling my chair where to go”.  

The project is being piloted at the Boston Home in Dorchester, a residential and outpatient facility for people with neurological disorders.  Another great feature of the chair is the integrated GPS system.  This system allows for both the staff to know where the residents are, as well as the residents to know where their friends might be located throughout the residence at any given time.  They have also added a monitor which gives information such as the resident’s daily schedules, weather, menu, etc.  This information helps to promote socialization and participation in the residence activities.

Falling in line with the technology trend of late is one of the long term-goals of the project; to also add the capability of the wheelchair to be able to monitor a user’s vital signs including heart rate, temperature and blood pressure.  

I continue to applaud the efforts of MIT with pushing the limits of wheelchair technology.  I think it is important to continue to look at creating independent options for persons with all levels of ability.  This wheelchair, although created for a specific population, gives a possible option for more independent access, where there was none before. 

What do you think of this wheelchair?

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Entry filed under: Wheelchairs. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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