Toyota Motor Corp. announced they have developed a wheelchair that doesn’t require physical muscle movement or voice activation. The new innovative wheelchair is capable of detecting brain waves and following instruction. Japanese researchers and engineers collaborated with Toyota to analyze brain waves and design the new wheelchair.
Similar systems have been created in the past. However, the previous systems took several seconds to receive the brain waves and take action. The new Toyota technology is able to accept, read and react within 125 milliseconds.
Users of the new wheelchair will wear a cap that is capable of reading brain signals. The technology involves relaying brain signals to an EEG, or electroencephalograph brain scan that is located on the wheelchair. The data is analyzed by the computer and action is taken.
Toyota has been dedicated to helping people get around in a variety of new ways for many years. The company wanted to take it a few steps further by focusing on other forms of transportation such as power wheelchairs.
The new technology is highly beneficial for disabled people that are unable to use their hands, arms, or voice to move their wheelchair. The new Toyota technology allows the wheelchair user to simply think about moving forward, backward, left or right and instantly achieve it.
At this stage in development, the wheelchair user will be required to use their mouth to blow a puff of air into a detector placed on the face to command the wheelchair to come to a complete stop. This might sound like an inconvenience, but it is actually a safety measure.
Once the rival of Toyota heard news of the new technology they began their own creation of the same type of wheelchair. Honda Motor Company is working on a system that involves mechanical movement controlled by brain waves.
In early 2015, Honda did release a short video showing a wheelchair user wearing a helmet but right-hand movement was detected. In a development twist, the video also showed Asimo, a boy-shaped robot, that is programmed to take action when receiving brain signals lifted its right arm too. Honda has not formally released any further details regarding either project.
Although Toyota is excited about their new creation and eager to see it help people with mobility issues, it remains in the research and development process until further notice. This type of technology is new and needs to be perfected before it is released to the public.
Wheelchair users that can benefit from this technology are eager to use the new product. It will provide independence and freedom that other wheelchairs are not able to provide for specific people.
Electric or Power wheelchairs are generally controlled with a joystick by using the right or left hand. It is easy to use, but can be difficult to control for people that have limited mobility of their hands too.
As Toyota continues their research and design strategy, wheelchair users wait anxiously for the big reveal.