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:

Historical Facts, Figures, and the Future of Wheelchair Usage

EZ Lite Cruiser has released an infographic that visualizes the history, figures, fun facts, and the future of wheelchair usage.

Historical Facts

***The earliest records of wheeled chairs occur in Chinese art, at around 525 CE.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheelchair

***The first wheelchair patent was issued in the United States in 1869, the same year the first plastic was patented by John Wesley Hyatt
http://inventors.about.com/od/wstartinventions/a/wheelchair.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1869_in_the_United_States

***First motorized wheelchair was manufactured in London in 1916
http://inventors.about.com/od/wstartinventions/a/wheelchair.htm

***Harry Jennings and his disabled friend Herbert Everest, both mechanical engineers, invented the first lightweight, steel,
collapsible wheelchair in 1933. Everest had broken his back in a mining accident.
Everest and Jennings were the first company to mass-produce wheelchairs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheelchair


Facts and Figures

***According to the US Census Bureau, there is an estimated 3.6 Million wheelchair users (15 years or older), and the numbers grow daily.
https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/pdf/cb14ff-15_ada.pdf

***1.825 Million wheelchair users in the US are 65 or older
http://www.walkingisoverrated.org/2014/11/wheelchair-fun-facts/

***By 2035, 1.1 Billion people globally (13% of the world's population) will be 65 or older
http://www.walkingisoverrated.org/2014/11/wheelchair-fun-facts/


Random Fun Facts

***Top 5 Cities in the United States for Wheelchair Living According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, in ranked order:
1. Seattle, Washington
2. Albuquerque, New Mexico
3. Reno, Nevada
4. Denver, Colorado
5. Portland, Oregon
http://www.christopherreeve.org/site/c.mtKZKgMWKwG/b.6150343/k.F282/Top_20_Most_Livable_US_Cities_for_Wheelchair_Users.htm

***New York City's MTA buses are ALL wheelchair accessible

***Nearly 50% of people use a wheelchair temporarily or post surgically.
http://www.walkingisoverrated.org/2014/11/wheelchair-fun-facts/


Future of Electric Wheelchairs

The global electric wheelchair market is estimated to witness robust growth through 2025.
North America region led the market in 2014 in terms of highest demand.
In US, the government provides medical insurance to people over the age of 65,
which helps the increasing elderly population to get medical facilities at subsidized rates.
http://www.futuremarketinsights.com/reports/electric-wheelchair-market