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A collaboration between tech firm Intel and Brazilian startup HOOBOX Robotics, has come up with an AI-powered toolkit named Wheelie 7, thought to be the world’s first wheelchair powered by AI technology. According to Intel, the Wheelie 7 technology allows a wheelchair to operate using facial expressions by integrating the Intel RealSense Depth Camera (which gives incredible accuracy and precision), Intel core processors and Intel’s OpenVINO AI toolkit to respond to what movements the facial expressions infer.

So, for people with disabilities who are unable to use a motorised wheelchair by controlling it with their hands, this AI powered toolkit has the potential to significantly help mobility and independence through the use of their facial movements.

The technology can be downloaded in 7 minutes and enables users to choose from 9 different facial expressions to move, stop and change the direction of the wheelchair based on a few simple facial gestures such as a kiss, smile or raised eyebrow.

This means that inconvenient and invasive body sensors are not necessary. Instead, the Intel camera mounted on the wheelchair uses next-generation facial analysis (which is accurate regardless of light conditions) and streams the data to an onboard computer installed underneath the wheelchair where it is processed in real time.

There are approximately 288,000 people in the US living with spinal injuries with around 17,700 new cases every year according to The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Centre, and a 2018 Australian study found that physical mobility has the largest impact on the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. The new AI-powered toolkit aims to provide independence to people with reduced mobility.

In fact, as AI technology develops, so does it’s potential to improve and transform lives.


Lewis Reed Group

With over 20 years experience producing and selling wheelchair accessible vehicles in the UK, you can be sure that we can offer excellent customer service with a level of knowledge that is completely unrivalled.