Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Introducing iWheelchair: An Intelligent Wheelchair System

Scientists have come up with the most advanced and intelligent wheelchair system known as "iWheelchair." With just a tablet computer as the central operating platform, the system has integrated a range of functions such as safety, environment control, hygiene and health monitoring with automated alerts that cater to the requirements of users and decrease workload on the caregivers. 

By giving simple touchscreen commands, users can easily control any home device that is connected to the system, such as TV, electric curtains, electric beds and motorized projector screens. Those suffering from hand impairments can use a fabric electronic switch to translate thumb movements into touchscreen commands. In addition, a sensor fixed to the wheelchair constantly evaluates vital health signals like heart rate, and saves the readings into a computer for future record, while the fall monitoring system can activate instant alarm when the wheelchair or the patient falls.

The cushion seat and diaper wrap is made out of nano-treated fabric comprising of water repellent, dirt-proof, and antibacterial features. The seat also has fabric sensors that evaluate the user's posture and alerts the user of prolonged inactivity to avoid circulatory problems or bedsores. The entire system is also attached to a smart diaper containing sensors that can sense moisture levels and puts on a buzzer on the computer tablet when there is a need for a change. Apart from this, there are several optional settings available for sending SMS, email alerts to the concerned family members or caregivers in case of prolonged inactivity, a fall, wet diaper or abnormal heart rate.

The system makes use of Bluetooth to establish communication among all the sensors. Apart from this, the system can be personalized to cater to the requirements of individual patients. 

The research team working on the iwheelchair project will continue to work to make sure iWheelchair is able to cope with the daily challenges faced by those using a wheelchair. This is to make sure that the technology is able to help wheelchair users of all communities around the world.

The PolyU technologies that have been deployed in the iwheelchair system include:

  1. Integrated Control System (tablet based)
  2. System to Monitor Falls
  3. System to Monitor Vital Signs
  4. Fabric Sensor
  5. Smart Diaper
  6. Fabric Electronic Switch
Technology has come a long way and its certainly helping those with physical in capabilities.  iWheelchair is a revolutionary concept that will make living easier not just for the one using the wheelchair but also for the care givers. The project has even won a bronze medal in International Invention Fair in Seoul.