This world of ours is often a surprising place to live in, with all its complex situations, rollercoaster of emotions and mesmerizing events. Although everything it has to offer can be seen as an opportunity and the way we perceive things and decide to react to them will shape what becomes our own unique course through life, some situations will be seen at some points as most challenging. In an apparently unfair turn of events, accidents may happen, but it is wise to remember that the whole universe will work towards your happiness if you choose to accept and understand all the trials and tribulations that might come your way.

 

“In an apparently unfair turn of events, accidents may happen, but it is wise to remember that the whole universe will work towards your happiness if you choose to accept and understand all the trials and tribulations that might come your way.”

 

As mentioned before, accidents are sometimes bound to happen, and in some cases, their outcomes may leave more than scars behind. Those who suffer impairments of the musculoskeletal system often need help in performing day to day activities and moving around. Wheelchairs manage to cover this necessity in most situations, but are of little help to those who have suffered injuries that have left them incapable of using their arms and upper body. This is where technology steps in and offers the most unexpected of solutions: making use of facial expressions. You probably made one after reading this, but it is real and an achievable possibility – a person can control a wheelchair using facial expressions.

 

“This is where technology steps in and offers the most unexpected of solutions: making use of facial expressions. You probably made one after reading this, but it is real and an achievable possibility – a person can control a wheelchair using facial expressions.”

 

The prototype for the futuristic invention, called Wheelie, was designed by a research team from Brazil’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, State University of Campinas. The system relied on Intel’s RealSense facial recognition camera and was able to process around 80 points on a person’s face that could be translated into facial expressions which would be assigned afterwards to different controls for the wheelchair. Moving right, left, forward, backward or stopping can be done by using facial expressions such as a full or half smile, a “kissy face”, puffed-out cheeks or sticking out your tongue. The facial expressions designated for movement control may seem a bit odd at first, but the research team had to choose them in such a manner that they would be comfortable for patients with extended impairment and also in such a way as not to completely limit the person in question’s ability to have a conversation that would clearly imply facial movement.

“The system relied on Intel’s RealSense facial recognition camera and was able to process around 80 points on a person’s face that could be translated into facial expressions which would be assigned afterwards to different controls for the wheelchair.”

 

The device’s extraordinary features don’t stop here. Wheelie is also equipped with a voice recognition system that can also be used to give commands. Again, having a conversation doesn’t have to be a problem because this smart wheelchair is designed to “know” when you’re talking to it. This means that you don’t have to fret running over your conversation partner if you mention the word “forward”. The speech recognition system is there to analyze your tone, voice intensity and way of speaking in order to decide whether it has received a command or the word in question was simply part of a sentence.

 

The Brazilian company, HOO.BOX Robotics is continuously working to perfect a version of Wheelie that could be made available for the general public in the next two years. Thus, the wheelchair of the future will be in a short while part of our present times. Fingers crossed!

 

Written by R.F.I

1st of July 2016

Sources:

http://www.hoo-box.com/wheelie.html

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/275538

http://csee.essex.ac.uk/staff/hhu/Papers/Essex_IR_2006.pdf

http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/special-wheelchair