Could a Voice-Controlled Wheelchair Revolutionize Care?

Technology is crucial for wheelchair users.

It is crucial because it assists them in getting around their home, and essentially from point A to point B. It is especially crucial for wheelchair users who have extremely limited mobility and are not able to use a joystick to control and wheelchair.

So, it is not surprising that there is always a few different research projects going on to better the technology available to wheelchair users.

One of these projects is an ongoing development process at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

A Voice-Controlled Solution

In development since 2005, a team at MIT’s research lab has been working towards creating a robotic wheelchair that understands basic voice commands.

Their prototype deciphers conversational language commands given through a microphone by the wheelchair user, and uses a tablet that is pre-loaded with various commands and navigational documents to carry out the motions intended by the user.

For example, a caregiver could upload the layout of their home with each room labeled into the tablet, then the wheelchair user could give a simple command like “I’m tired” and be taken to their bedroom.

The Future for Wheelchair Users

While this specific voice-controlled wheelchair is only in testing with an MIT area care center called The Boston Home, that does not mean this technology will not be mass produced in the future.

This type of technology could be invaluable to wheelchair users and their caregivers, even more so than our disabled vehicles are. They will be able to provide additional independence to people who retain speech, but do not necessarily have the mobility needed to control the motions of their chair.

What do you think of this technology? Would this type of wheelchair make you or someone you know’s life easier? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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