Hackaday Prize Entry: Lighting The Way For Walkers

Chances are, you probably know someone who uses a walker to assist in their mobility. Ever wonder about how they could be made better? When [Alan McFarland] noticed his friend using his iPhone as a light to walk down a hallway — with only one hand on his walker — he realized something could easily be done to make the walker more functional. His own light bar.

Sure you could get a flashlight, zip tie it to the walker, or maybe a bike light with a dedicated mount — but [Alan] wanted it to be a bit more elegant; and functional. With this in mind, he attached an LED light strip to the lower frame of the walker to help illuminate the path ahead. A button is wired up to the handle for easy access, and he’s even using a PIC12F1501 microcontroller to give it some logic — it’ll turn off by itself, fading out, giving the person a chance to sit down before the lights go out.

The thing we like about this project is he programmed it using the PICBASIC PRO compiler — the same compiler that [Alan] himself used nearly 20 years ago programming the Borg suits and spacesuit lighting on Star Trek: First Contact — how’s that for a random trivia fact!

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8 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Lighting The Way For Walkers

  1. Hells bells! I actually remember seeing that film. It came out in the month of November in 1996. I saw it with my dad, (visiting my dad and stepmom, she didn’t tag along.) It was a heck of a great romp. And [Alan] that’s an excellent use of technology.

  2. Nice clean solution for a real problem. The only worry I have is how well does the LED strip take small hits and bumps? Depending of course from the “driver”, but occasionally I’ve seen some pretty hefty brute forcing when the walker gets stuck. Maybe adding some kind of a plastic/rubber bumper-strips above and below of the LEDs.

    1. That’s why I used the “weatherproof” LED strip material… it’s encased in clear silicone and is protected significantly against crushing and shear forces. Back in 2007 I did the LED lighting for lightsuits used in the movie “Watchmen”; this was when LED tape first came onto the market.


      The suit was worn by actor Billy Crudup all day for weeks of standing around, walking, bumping into things and worst of all, sitting down. It needed almost nightly repair to the LED tape. Good thing we had four of them! If I’d had the weatherproof LED tape on that project I probably wouldn’t have needed to do hardly any repairs, the stuff is that durable.

  3. While you are on gerontology, someone needs to come up with a ‘fallen over, cant get up’ sensor. Seriously. Not everyone can afford the $50/month or so for an ambulance button.

    1. They exist.
      I mostly see them in use by firefighters. If a firefighter has his activated, and becomes prone for more then a couple seconds, it begins to let out a godawful loud alarm.
      Some Scott-Air packs come with one… and Firefighter’s 2 way radios too. You fall down, everyone within 4 city blocks will know it :) )

  4. I know a “blind” driver, he has low light blindness. He has light amplification assist so he can drive in daylight only.
    Question, was the hallway not lit well, or were the hazards scattered on the floor.
    An idiot-phone makes a poor light and drains that sexy thin battery fast.
    Just hang your light below and rear of the bar it will be safe from bumps and crashes. Having it near the top means it can be used for seeing things up close when held in front.

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