Power wheelchairs are great tool that can be used to grant people with disabilities greater independence, but they come at the cost of being large and cumbersome.
When not in use, power wheelchairs do tend to take up a lot of space, often blocking walkways or causing clutter in rooms. Sure, you could tuck your chair away while you aren’t using it, but how would you get it there and what would you do when it comes time to get back into the chair?
A Technological Solution for a Simple Problem
Ke Wang, a Canadian engineer and founder of the Ottawa-based tech company, Eightfold Technologies has encountered this very same problem with his wheelchair when he is not using it. His frustration began after he first started using a power wheelchair more than ten years ago.
“I’m looking at the chair, I can see the chair, it’s right there, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” he told CBC News in Ottawa. Wang has always expressed frustration with having to move his chair out of the way when he is trying to watch TV while sitting on the couch.
Since engineers are not the type of people who shy away from solving a problem, Wang began working on a new power wheelchair design that can be remotely controlled via a smartphone and and even respond to voice commands.
Now all we have to do is wait for him to get working on a remote-controlled handicap van.
How the Chair Works
The prototype chair can be accessed using Bluetooth technology, allowing the user to input commands using their smartphone. The chair will also have the ability to learn pre-determined routes, allowing users to simply push a button or recite a voice command to tell the chair where they want it to go.
Because the chair can learn certain pathways in a home or office, even people who have very limited mobility simply need to tell the chair to take them to the kitchen, the office or the bathroom and the chair will automatically know where to go and how to get there.
“Every little bit of independence is invaluable to a disabled person like me,” says Wang.
If implemented, this can be a great solution for people who want to store their power wheelchair in a corner or in another room when not in use.
Check out the details for the wheelchair in the video below.
What do you think of this wheelchair design? Would it be useful to you? let us know in the comments below.