Innovation

Wheelchair powered without hands debuts at CES

Intel and Hoobox Robotics have teamed up to create the Wheelie 7 that responds to facial expressions. Dan Fastenberg reports.

Limitations on arm and hand mobility may no longer be as limiting as they once were.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Intel and Hoobox Robotics, a wheelchair debuted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that is controlled solely via facial expressions.

In fact, the Wheelie 7 kit can be attached to any motorized wheelchair and responds to a range of facial expressions from a smile to pursed ‘kissy’ lips.

An Intel ‘RealSense’ camera is at the heart of the technology. The camera sits in front of the user’s face and processes incoming data via AI algorithms in real time to control the chair.

ERIC INGRAM, WHEELCHAIR USER,

“The wheelchair was a little awkward at first. Using facial expressions instead of other manual forms of movement was a little confusing, but once you use it for a decent amount of time and get comfortable with the controls, it becomes a lot more natural and easy to use.”

The Consumer Electronics Show is widely known for its gadgets. But this year a variety of products are being displayed that make life better the way the Wheelie 7 does. Esight, for one, showed off a headset that magnifies images for the visually impaired.

Hoobox CEO Paulo Pinheiro, for his part, says he came up with the idea of the Wheelie 7 when he saw a young girl on a wheelchair in an airport who, he said, had a “great smile” on her face


Associated Links

  • Intel
  • Hoobox
  • Technology
  • Intel
  • California
  • Computer hardware
  • Bobcat Robotics
  • TurtleBot

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