Yesterday, Texas Instruments, a designer and supplier of digital signal processing solutions, showcased what it claims to be the world’s first motorized wheelchair to be controlled by thought. This took place at the Texas Instruments Developers Conference (TIDC) India 2007 event.
Interestingly, this wheelchair is not controlled mechanically nor is it controlled by speech. Instead it is guided by thought and by a slight movement of the Adam’s apple.
Texas Instruments had collaborated with Ambient Corp. who provided solutions based on the MSP 430 microcontroller developed by none other than Texas Instruments.
When the user of the wheelchair wishes to communicate, an implanted sensor/larynx control system ‘reads’ the electrical signals that the brain uses to command the larynx to speak. The sensor then processes and sends this information to a computer, which then carries out a direct command in the form of motor control.
In simple words, to make the wheelchair move, all the user has to do is think about these actions and then make a slight movement of his/her Adam’s apple.
According to Praveen Ganapathy, Director – Corporate Business Development, Texas Instruments India, “Applications such as these demonstrate beyond any doubt that there are increasingly fewer limits to how innovative technology can better the lives of disadvantaged people.”
Michael Callahan, co-founder and CEO, Ambient Corp said, “Current technology enables you to press a button and a word or a phrase is emitted. However, there are severely disabled people who have neither the physical dexterity that this requires not the power of speech. Such solutions are intended for them.”