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Wheelchairs

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
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
With the aging of populations in many countries around the world, particularly Japan, there are ever increasing numbers of elderly to care for, but relatively fewer younger people to do the job. Robots have long been seen as a means of filling the gap and Panasonic is set to unveil its latest technology designed to do just that. The three robotic devices set to make their debut at the upcoming 38th International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R.2011) in Tokyo include a communication assistance robot and new models of the company's Hair-Washing Robot and RoboticBed. Read More
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
Some people who spent their youth in the 80s miss that era, and wish that things now were like they were then. Well, those people might be interested in the University of California at Irvine’s OutRun Project. With the ultimate aim of developing gaming therapy systems for people such as quadriplegics, scientists involved in the project have created a kind of combination electric golf cart and arcade-style video game console. Players can actually drive the cart down the road, while an augmented reality feature displays the real-life road on the screen in front of them, but in the form of Sega’s classic 8-bit road racing game, OutRun. Read More
Cyclists have been enjoying the benefits of gears for over a hundred years now but the wheelchair-bound have been stuck with the single 1:1 speed ratio on manual wheelchairs come flat ground or hilly since their invention centuries ago. Now Scott Daigle, a graduate engineering student at the University of Illinois, is addressing this oversight with IntelliWheels AGS (Automatic Gear-Shift), an automated system that detects how the wheelchair is being pushed and changes gears accordingly. Read More
The introduction of the white cane early in the last century gave blind and visually-impaired users a mobility tool that not only helped them to get around, but also allowed them to be seen by others. Now researchers from Sweden's Luleå University of Technology – the same place that designed the autonomous wheelchair – have developed and publicly tested a system which could potentially give wheelchair-bound blind people a virtual white stick to help them detect and avoid obstacles. An electric wheelchair has been fitted with a navigational laser scanner which provides virtual 3D maps of the surroundings, and sends feedback about any obstructions to the user via a haptic interface. Read More
Practical thought-controlled devices, such as wheelchairs, artificial arms, or even cars, are perhaps a step closer to reality thanks to research being carried out at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Traditionally, brain-computer interfaces require the user to concentrate on constantly maintaining a mental command of either turn left, turn right, or no-command (go straight). According to EPFL, most users can’t sustain more than about an hour of the necessary mental effort. The school is developing a new system, however, that allows users to take breaks and shift their attention to other things while their thought-controlled device continues to operate on its own. Read More
Many of the greatest civilian innovations can be traced back to military origins. Penicillin, radar, satellites and the Internet, just to name a few. So it is not uncommon for technologies developed for fighting wars to be found to have wider applications. The following idea is an example of this adaptation and is inspired by the important need of disabled veteran soldiers for independence and mobility. By using terrain sensing control systems designed for the guidance of autonomous vehicles on the battlefield, researchers have begun developing a system that will allow wheelchair users to access more areas than ever before. Read More
The wheel may be one of mankind’s greatest inventions, but it’s an unfortunate fact of life for the wheelchair-bound that much of the modern world is built for the upright – from deli counter-tops and store shelves to stairs and escalators. When Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer was left paralyzed after a car accident in 1997 he set about creating “robotic trousers” to replace a wheelchair. The fruits of his labor are now set to help others with his ReWalk robotic exoskelton set to go on sale from the start of 2011. Read More
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