Thursday, 28 November 2013

Metal Racers.

Being bound to a wheelchair, is obviously not thought of by many of us , but for a number of people it is a stark reality of life. Most users of wheelchairs, don't let being confined to 4 wheels stop them on their daily tasks, but sometimes it is the intricate driving of the chair itself which can be an issue.

A new, 'fashionable' piece of technology has been developed, where a magnetic stud is inserted into the tongue (so it resembles the traditional tongue piercing) and the wheelchair is controlled by the user flicking their tongue in the direction which they want to travel. (It acts a  bit like a game joystick controller.) The signal from the 'stud' is transmitted to a smartphone app which controls the wheelchair.

11 people who were paralysed from the waist down undertook an obstacle course full of twists and turns and it was their task to use the new 'stud' to direct their journey along the path. Once they had completed the course using the 'stud', a steering rival was used as a comparison and this was the 'sip-and-puff' method of propagation, where direction is controlled via breathing into a straw.

Obviously this new wheelchair controlling 'stud', actually requires the participants to have their tongue pierced, which for some people in their line of career, or lifestyle may be deemed as unacceptable or it just may not be to their liking.

However due to the tongue, like the hands and feet being able to make very fine movements, it could potentially be a starting point for some sort of device for implementation onto the tongue which does not require a piercing being necessary.

Maybe some sort of chemically thinned nano-plaster with the mechanism of the stud inside, may be the next level?

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