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Disability

The WHILL on display at the Tokyo Motor Show (Photo: Gizmag)

Wheelchair users with full use of their arms generally don't need electric wheelchairs ... but sometimes, especially if those users have long distances to cover, it sure would be nice to have one. Instead of going out and buying themselves a full electric wheelchair, however, those people may soon have the option of using a WHILL. Recently spotted by Gizmag staff at the Tokyo Motor Show, the prototype device clamps onto the wheels of an existing manual wheelchair, temporarily providing it with electric drive.  Read More

SideStix are 'sports crutches,' designed for active users

Thirty-eight years ago, a drunk driver hit teenager Sarah Doherty while she was riding her bicycle. She lost her right leg in the accident. An avid athlete, she continued to participate in sports after her recovery, became an occupational therapist, and began adapting rock climbing gear for her own use. That ultimately led to her and her partner Kerith Perreur-Lloyd inventing SideStix, which are forearm crutches designed for active users - like Sarah.  Read More

The NSK robot guide dog climbs stairs (Photo: gizmag.com)

Guide dogs for the visually impaired provide an important service and help provide a welcome sense of autonomy to physically-challenged individuals. Unfortunately, the highly-skilled canines require about US$30,000 in training over several months, and always seem to be in short supply. The growing demand for these specialized animal companions gave a group of engineers from Japan's NSK corporation and the University of Electro-Communications just the impetus they needed to design a mechanical solution, and the robotic guide dog was born.  Read More

The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever

Imagine if the only way of propelling yourself on a bicycle was to reach down and turn one of the wheels with your hand. It would be pretty inefficient, yet that’s essentially how a wheelchair works. Of course, wheelchairs are set up so that the push-rims can be reached very easily, but the propulsion process still comes down to the wheels being directly pushed forward by hand. ROTA Mobility, however, has an alternative. It’s called the RoChair, and it’s a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a front-and-center-mounted lever.  Read More

The Vehicle Production Group's MV-1 van is designed with wheelchair-using passengers in mi...

The AM General auto assembly plant in Mishawaka, Indiana is where they used to build Hummer H2s. Now, its workers are making something a little less ... controversial. It’s a van called the MV-1, MV standing for “Mobility Vehicle,” and it’s designed specifically for wheelchair-using passengers. Its designers claim that it is better suited to the handicapped than converted conventional vans, and the first factory-built model rolled off the assembly line yesterday.  Read More

Paul's Duplex lever allows disabled cyclists to activate both brakes with one hand

While commuter bicycles can generally get by with a rear-wheel-only coaster brake, mountain and cyclocross bikes require both front and rear brakes – along with the hand levers used to activate them. Although this doesn’t pose much of a challenge for most riders, it does for those who only have the use of one hand. One possible solution is to use a system that joins both brake cables to one common end, which then goes into a conventional lever. Another solution, however, is to use Paul Component Engineering’s dual-cable Duplex lever.  Read More

The BioBolt (seen here on a primate skull) is a prototype implant that could be used to wi...

For a great number of people with paralyzed limbs, the reason that they can’t move the arm or leg in question is because the “move” command isn’t able to reach from their brain to the limb. This is often due to damage to the nervous system, or to the brain, although the limb itself is still perfectly functional ... so it could still move, if only there was a way of getting the signal to it. Well, one might be on its way. Scientists at the University of Michigan have developed an implant known as the BioBolt, that wirelessly transmits neural signals from the brain to a computer. In the future, that computer could hopefully then relay them onto a formerly-paralyzed limb.  Read More

A prototype driving device allows disabled people to steer, accelerate, change gears and b...

Your driving instructor probably told you to always keep two hands on the wheel, and your feet ready at the pedals. For people lacking the use of one or more upper or lower limbs, however, this isn’t always possible. Such people shouldn’t be precluded from driving, but they shouldn’t have to worry about not being able to fully control their car, either. While there are some solutions that can be applied to existing steering wheels and pedals, a group of Spanish researchers have come up with something else – a single device that allows drivers to steer, accelerate, change gears and brake with one hand.  Read More

EEG brainwave headsets have potential applications ranging from medicine to gaming and mar...

Until recently a purely lab based technology, brainwave (electroencephalograph or EEG) headsets are trickling into the marketplace in a number of different guises. But what exactly do these devices do, how do they differ from each other and - with potential applications ranging from medicine to gaming and market research – who will use them and for what purpose? Dr. Max Sutherland takes a closer look.  Read More

The BCMI lets you create music using nothing more than eye movement and brainwaves

Imagine a Wii that lets you play a musical instrument with your brain without touching strings or a keyboard. That's exactly what this "proof of concept" brain-computer-music-interface (BCMI) is designed to do – it uses brain waves and eye movement to sound musical notes, so even a person with "locked-in-syndrome" could participate in creative activity analogous to learning to play a musical instrument. Developed by a team headed by Eduardo Miranda, a composer and computer music specialist from the UK's University of Plymouth, the BCMI can be set up on a laptop computer for under $3,500 (including the computer). For people who are disabled, assistive technology usually aims at day-to-day functioning and largely ignores the unique aspect of being a human – creativity. This is different.  Read More

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