Using a scanning laser similar to those used in industrial safety systems, a new wheelchair developed by Sweden’s Luleå University of Technology allows those who are visually impaired to drive it without assistance. A driver is given haptic feedback as a navigation aid, reportedly similar to using a cane.
Although something like this is good in concept, this idea is already a working prototype. Doctoral student Daniel Innala Ahlmark (who is visually impaired himself) has already taken this wheelchair on a test run in his university’s busy Computer Science, Electrical, and Space Engineering Department. After this test run he remarked that he “felt safe like using a white cane.”
It’s really neat to see engineering and hacking skills put to use to help people who are impaired in some way (even cooler to see someone visually impaired helping with the process itself!). For more “hacks” related to helping people check out this brain controlled wheelchair, or this mobility device for kids.
10 thoughts on “The Laser Guided Wheelchair”
This is somthing that should be commericalized PDQ!
I like the idea, but I would like to see more information about the haptic feedback device.
I agree @Hirudinea, sounds like recycling HP printer scan assemblies might be a way to reduce costs.
Could do the same with cheap webcams from AA1 and other small netbooks as the resolution needed is not very high- I looked into using these as a 3D microscope not so long ago and the only snag is connecting to two video streams on the same PC as the software doesen’t want to play nice.
BTW HaD have you considered doing a monthly competition with a prize, a la 555 contest?
That is some clever use of 3DOF haptic device. The one in the picture is Falcon (http://home.novint.com/) which is low cost device geared towards gaming / consumer market.
There are couple of libraries that you can use with Falcon in addition to their own SDK. One worth looking at is H3D (http://www.h3dapi.org/).
How many can you fit in a B52??
…And the laser used is harmless to human eyes?
Stop staring at the handicapped guy and you’ll be alright.
Should be just as harmless as the lasers in the kinect.
why not just have a normal wheelchair?
it’s not like blind people have proper jobs to go to or anything, so they don’t really need to be anywhere, and most people are nice enough to get out of the way when they see one coming.
Speaking of haptic devices I’m still amazed by the possibility of these devices, like the one seen time ago on Instructables:
I suspect that a number of these devices tied to wrists, knees, head, back or seamed into clothing might open (possibly they do it already) new areas of support to sight-disabled people.
It is amazing how the brain re-maps senses.
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