Team develops integrated iWheelchair system

March 18, 2016
The iWheelchair. Credit: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has developed an intelligent system called "iWheelchair", integrating a series of advanced PolyU technologies from its Interdisciplinary Division of Biomedical Engineering (BME) and Institute of Textiles and Clothing (ITC). With a tablet computer as the centralized operation platform, the system integrates a variety of functions such as environment control, as well as safety, health and hygiene monitoring with automated alert, which better caters for the needs of users and reduce the workload of their caregivers. This wheelchair is unique in integrating the above functions into one platform in the market.

By providing simple touchscreen commands on the tablet, users can control any home devices connected to the , such as electric curtains, TV, motorized projector screens and electric beds. For those with impairment of hand functions, a fabric electronic switch can be used to convert thumb movements into touchscreen commands. Moreover, a sensor attached to the wheelchair measures vital health signals such as heart rate, and feed the readings into the computer for instant display and future record, while the fall monitoring function can activate an alarm through the tablet when the user or the wheelchair falls. The diaper wrap and the cushion seat is made with nano-treated fabric with dirt-proof, water repellent and antibacterial features, and the latter has fabric sensors that monitor the user's posture and buzz the user for prolonged inactivity to avoid bedsores and other circulatory conditions. The system is even connected to a smart diaper with sensors that can detect moisture levels and activate the buzzer on the tablet when changing is needed. Finally, optional setting is available for sending out SMS and/or email alerts to designated caregivers or family members in case of a fall, prolonged inactivity, abnormal and wet diaper to enlist help.

The system uses Bluetooth for communication among all sensors. For sending out email or SMS alerts, a Wi-Fi connection or mobile data will be called for. In addition, the system can be easily customized to cater for the needs of individual users. The interdisciplinary project is supported by the Innovation and Technology Fund, and has won a bronze medal in the Seoul International Invention Fair 2015.

Dr. Eric Tam and a wheelchair user demonstrate controlling curtain movement with iWheelchair. Credit: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

A demo system of iWheelchair has been installed at Jockey Club Activity Center of Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth (HKFHY) for their members' trial. The research team will continue to work closely with HKFHY to enable iWheelchair to better cope with the everyday challenges faced by wheelchair users. "As a next step," said Ir Dr Eric W.C. Tam, Assistant Professor of BME and the Project Coordinator of iWheelchair, "we will explore collaboration opportunities with industry, integrate more functions in the iWheelchair, so that the technology can benefit more wheelchair users in our community."

The research team (from left to right): Ir Prof. Yongping Zheng, Ir Dr. Eric Tam from Interdisciplinary Division of Biomedical Engineering, Mr. Philip Wong, wheelchair user, Dr. Patrick Hui and Dr. Frency Ng from Institute of Textiles and Clothing. Credit: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Explore further: Mobile telephone selects best route for wheelchair users

Related Stories

Mobile telephone selects best route for wheelchair users

March 8, 2016

Bumps on surfaces, doorsteps or kerbs and the unsuitability of roads, pathways and buildings cause problems for wheelchair users. Wheelchair users can now use technology developed at the University of Twente to map out safe ...

Intelligent sensor informs you to change a diaper via SMS

August 13, 2015

Diapers could soon come with a sensor that alerts caregivers by SMS when the diapers are soiled. Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR have invented an "intelligent continence ...

Monkeys move robotic wheelchairs with their thoughts

March 3, 2016

(HealthDay)—Researchers who made it possible for monkeys to operate a robotic wheelchair using only the monkey's thoughts say the technology might eventually be used by severely disabled people.

Wheelchair follows orders, but can act on its own, too

May 25, 2011

Five Northeastern University engineering seniors have developed an innovative, voice-operated wheelchair that can navigate through a cluttered room, move alongside walls and detect stairwells and other obstacles in its path ...

iHome for smart elderly

April 4, 2012

The first smart home, "iHome", has newly opened in Yau Ma Tei in Hong Kong revealing the future of home care for the elderly. Established by PolyU in collaboration with the Hong Kong Housing Society and the Hong Kong Applied ...

Recommended for you

Startup Pi out to slice the charging cord

September 19, 2017

Silicon Valley youngster Pi on Monday claimed it had developed the world's first wireless charger that does away with cords or mats to charge devices.

A solar cell you can put in the wash

September 18, 2017

Scientists from RIKEN and the University of Tokyo have developed a new type of ultra-thin photovoltaic device, coated on both sides with stretchable and waterproof films, which can continue to provide electricity from sunlight ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.