Eye-Controlled Wheelchair: New Vision and Freedom for The Disabled

They say when life gives you lemons the thing to do is make lemonade, but for those of us who are paralyzed and dependant on others for their care, that advice comes in a pill that can only be swallowed slowly. Mobility is a very important factor and even electric wheelchairs, which are crucial tools in the arsenal for personal independence, have their limitations for people who suffer from motor disabilities.

The Inventors of the Eyedrivomatic Electric Wheelchair

It couldn't be more appropriate that those most afflicted would be the ones to bravely address this problem and achieve incredible results. The Eyedrivomatic Wheelchair is the brain-child of three extraordinary men: Patrick Joyce from Wells, Somerset: Steve Evans from Thames and artist, David Hopkinson, from Ditton in Surrey.

Inventors of the Eyedrivomatic WheelchairInventors of the Eyedrivomatic Wheelchair
Hackaday

Patrick Joyce, 46-year-old lead developer of this module, which took almost two years to bring to life, suffers from Motor Neurone Disease aka ALS and Lou Gehrig's Disease, but can use his hands to operate his wheelchair. Fellow developer, Steve Evans, who also suffers from the same disease, can only move his eyes and relies on others to take care of him.

The Hackaday Prize

The Hackaday Prize is all about "building stuff that matters" and whose purpose makes peoples' lives better. It began in early 2014 under the name, Hackaday Projects. It was originally intended as a hosting space for documenting special hardware and software projects. Membership has mushroomed into a social network of 50,000 members who create diverse do-it-yourself projects. There were more than 900 entries in the competition for the 2015 Hackaday Prize. This number was reduced to 100 semi-finalists and ten finalists.

The first prize-winners were given the choice of the $196,000 purse or a trip to outer space. The three inventors opted for the former to help support their families, as they couldn't take the trip together or realistically, even individually, given their physical conditions.

How does the Eyedrivomatic wheelchair work?

Eyedrivomatic is a set of non-invasive hardware units that is used in conjunction with existing Eyegaze hardware, which allows people suffering from diseases like MND/ALS to speak via their eyes through a computer. The unique aspect is that Eyedrivomatic does this without permanently altering either one, which has never been done before.

 

Eyegaze TechnologyEyegaze Technology
ProgressiveCommunityServices

It connects to any electric  wheelchair  by means of its joystick and is controlled solely by eye movement.This technological application comes in two parts, separating the actuator from the controller, which makes it adaptable for other uses besides eye control, or to use eye control for other things, such as IR devices (those employing the infrared electro-magnetic spectrum for wireless communication), which include television remote controls and consumer electronics like laptops and computers.

 

The Eyedrivomatic WheelchairThe Eyedrivomatic Wheelchair
YouTube

The future of the Eyedrivomatic wheelchair

Patrick Joyce does not believe that the Eyedrivomatic  will ever be commercially developed due to liability issues, but it is designed in such a way that it can easily be built in the privacy of one's home, circumventing that aspect.

Kudos to this brave trio who have built an incredible, accessible product destined to improve the lives of the disabled everywhere.

Can you think of other inventions that have been created to help the handicapped?

There are two kinds of 'disabled' persons. Those who dwell on what they have lost and those who concentrate on what they have left. ~ Thomas Stephen Szasz