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    Lightweight Folding Power Wheelchair Arena

    Controlling wheelchairs with 3D Motion Technology

    A Brazilian startup called HOO.BOX Robotics is developing a control system for wheelchairs that is completely powered by facial recognition technology.  It's called Wheelie and it was designed to be simple and comfortable. Check out their introduction video below. 

    Wheelie is a robotic wheelchair that uses facial expressions, eye tracking, head movement, and speech recognition to control it.  It uses Intel's "RealSense" technology and translate them into wheelchair commands.  Wheelie is also a custom solution. People have different facial and physical limitations or comfort constraints.  Others will prefer head movement or even eye tracking solutions.  So each user's controls are programmed to be comfortable and accurate for each individual.  Check out the videos below of HOO.BOX demonstrating some of the custom controls. 

    Wheelie was initially developed by researchers at Brazil’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, State University of Campinas (FEEC / Unicamp).  Some might be wondering why this technology is needed.  Wheelie will be extremely useful for people who suffer from conditions that limit the use of their hands and arms, such as cerebral palsy or results of a stroke.  Wheelie utilizes a laptop and Intel’s RealSense facial-recognition camera to capture and decipher nearly 80 points from a person’s face. The software can be programmed to recognize facial movements such as a smile, half smile, wrinkled nose, kiss face, tongue out or puffed-out cheeks and then assign those actions to driving the wheelchair forward, backward, left or right, or stopping.  The trick to making this practical was finding facial cues that were comfortable for the user.  

    Check out the video below to see Wheelie being maneuvered around obstacles in an office space:

    BMW is building wheelchairs for the Paralympics

    The 2016 Paralympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil between Sept 7th to the 18th. BMW has announced that they will be building 6 custom racing wheelchairs to start, one for each member of the U.S. team.  This is quite unusual for a car company, even though BMW designed a two-man bobsled for the U.S. Olympic team to use in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.  The bobsled helped the U.S. overcome a 62-year medal drought at Sochi.  

    The wheelchairs are being made by BMW's Designworks Group.

    Each seat will be custom made for each racer, and the gloves to go with the wheelchairs will also be custom made from a 3D printer.  3D scanners are being used to custom fit these new chairs and gloves to each racer.  The chair will also be made out of carbon fiber which is a lot lighter and stronger than aluminum chairs. 

    The Olympians will be able to test out just how fast these new chairs are, before they debut at the Rio Paralympics in September 2016.

    The racers are anxious and excited to try the new piece of equipment.  Josh George, a former gold medalist in the 100 meters, seemed excited at the prospect of receiving it, but not only because it will help him with his craft.

    “It’s the coolest-looking piece of equipment I’ve ever seen,” he said of the new design.

    He also said, “If I’m pushing the BMW and other racers are pushing aluminum frames, I’m going to be able to go the same speed as them with less energy exerted,” George said. “That means at the end of a race, the last 5K, the last 10K, I’m going to have more in the tank than they are.” 

    Meet Mac N'Cheez, a paralyzed rescue kitten

    Veterinarian, Donna Terris, at the Massapequa Pet Vet, said that a Good Samaritan brought in a litter of 5 week old kittens abandoned by their mom.  Each kitten was quickly adopted, except one that was paralyzed from the waist down and unable to walk.  

    The staff at the Massapequa Pet Vet named the remaining cat Mac N'Cheez, or Mac for short.  He had reportedly been brought to them in a macaroni and cheese box.  To better help the paralyzed kitten settle into his temporary home, technicians even constructed a make-shift wheelchair out of K'NEX or Erector set toy pieces. In a video by the Massapequa Pet Vet, Mac can be seen taking his first "steps" as they fastened the K'NEX/Erector Set wheelchair to his hind legs. Mac and Cheese quickly discovered he had a penchant for speed, whizzing off on his new set of wheels and basking in his new found mobility.

    The toy wheelchair has been confused as a "Lego Wheelchair", but you can clearly see that they are not Lego.  It is most likely K'NEX or Erector set toy pieces.  Also, this should not be confused with the recent Lego Wheelchair the toy company came out with in January of 2016.  That's when Lego unveiled their first disabled figure.  The company later confirmed the tiny wheelchair will be part of the new Lego City set that will come out in the June of 2016. 

    Doctors are still unsure why Mac's legs aren't working.  They are not broken and there doesn't seem to be a physical reason they currently won't work.  The wheelchair is the first step to recovery.  Mac has also started swimming in a little pool to hopefully stimulate and help rehabilitate his hind legs. 

    Mac does respond to squeezes and seems to be able to feel pain on some parts of his hind legs - indicating that the hospital may be able to help him walk again.  Horowitz said Mac could be walking on his own within a few weeks and may soon be ready to find his forever home.  In the meantime you can follow Mac and Cheese's adorable zooms on the Massapequa Pet Vet Facebook page.

    USA wins Gold at the Invictus Games for Wheelchair Rugby

    Orlando, FL. -- The US Wheelchair Rugby team completely dominated the Invictus Games, taking home the gold medal on Wednesday night.  They handed Denmark their silver medal with a 28-19 victory.  The US team also brutally defeated Australia in the semis with a Invictus Games scoring record of 36-15.  Some video footage of the final against Denmark is below. You can see how the US team makes scoring seem effortless. 

    It's good to see that even celebrities got involved in the Invictus Games.  John Cena was one of the couches for the wheelchair rugby team, sponsored by Land Rover and Jaguar. Derek Hough was also there to lend a hand.  Check out their interview by ABC News below. 

     
    Even Vice President Joe Biden and of course Prince Harry, the founder of the Invictus Games, were apart of the event.  Prince Harry presented the UK players with their silver medals, and also greeted the third place team Denmark and the US winners, who received their medals from Dr Jill Biden, wife of the US vice president Joe Biden.

    Joe Biden with Prince Harry during the wheelchair rugby gold medal match (Stephen M Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/AP)

    Most of us will never know the full horrors of combat. Many Servicemen and women suffer life-changing injuries, visible or otherwise, whilst serving their country. How do these men and women find the motivation to move on and not be defined by their injuries?

    How can they be recognized for their achievements and not given sympathy? Prince Harry asked these questions. On a trip to the Warrior Games in the USA in 2013 he saw how the power of sport could help physically, psychologically and socially. His mind was made up. London would host the inaugural Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel.  And the Invictus Games were created. 

    UberWAV has expanded to London

    UberWAV

    UberWAV allows riders with relevant disabilities to request wheelchair accessible vehicles. When riders select the UberWAV option, they're connected with vehicles equipped with ramps or lifts.  UberWAV is expanding on the city’s and state’s efforts by connecting riders with wheelchair accessible vehicles directly through the Uber app. For the first time, riders requiring a wheelchair accessible vehicle now have access to reliable, on-demand transportation.  

    Uber has just announced that it will be expanding is UberWAV services to London, UK.  It will give disabled customers the power to call a car that features a rear-entry ramp, winch and restraints.  UberWAV, operates in more than 10 US cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington. Toronto and Sydney are also covered. UberWAV carries the same cost UberX, and can now be booked across Greater London.  Uber says that UberWAV drivers will have "received Disability Equality Training from Transport for All, and Inclusion London."  Uber has said that it is launching the service with 55 vehicles, and plans to expand to have more than 100 vehicles in the coming months.  While Uber has pledged to keep waiting times to a minimum, average wait times in the service's first few weeks are expected to be around 25 to 40 minutes. 

    Power Wheelchair