Brazilian startup Hoobox Robotics joined forces with Intel and created the Wheelie 7 – the first wheelchair adapter kit that allows the users to use it by simply smiling, winking or just raising their eyebrows.
Intel’s AI for Good division, which focuses solely on software and hardware to improve human life, collaborated with Hoobox Robotics and created the kit which includes an Intel RealSense computer vision camera that maps different facial expressions, as well as an onboard computer that allows the device to interpret the signals as fast as possible – and that’s not an overstatement: it all happens in real time with only a 100-milisecond delay.
Every face movement is associated with a different command and Hoobox CEO Paulo Gurgel Pinheiro has come up with the idea after a person in a wheelchair offered him what we can only guess was a beautiful smile, at an airport.
Intel Newsroom / YouTube
The kit takes just about 7 minutes to attach and get going, hence its name. It does not have any body sensors to cause discomfort either.
The Wheelie 7 will become comercially available in March 2019 but the price will match the tech: a subscription of $300 per month. Around 400 kits will be available, most of which have been, apparently, already reserved.
For the time being, the company is currently testing the Wheelie 7 prototypes on 60 users who spend around 4 days transiting with their wheelchairs and, so far, all the tests have been completed successfully.