The collapsible wheelchair we know today was designed in the early 1900s. But according to Britannica, the first time an inventor attached wheels to a seat was somewhere between 6th -4thcenturies BC. With the development of electronics and robotics over the last few decades, wheelchairs have advanced to make life easier for differently-abled individuals.
With technological advancements, many futuristic wheelchairs are already available. Some are equipped with caterpillar tracks to trek over snow and sand, while others climb stairs flawlessly. Thanks to robotics and artificial intelligence, we expect to see brain-operated wheelchairs in the near future.
Futuristic Wheelchair that is Controlled by the Brain
Imagine a wheelchair that can be controlled using only your thoughts. It becomes an extension of your body, and you require no assistance to get the wheelchair moving. It cannot get more futuristic than this.
This technology can help paralyzed individuals regain mobility by converting brain signals into specific commands. This futuristic wheelchair combines artificial intelligence with brain activity to maneuver their wheelchair using only their brain.
The concept leans heavily on electroencephalography, which, according to Mayo Clinic, is a test that can detect brain activity through electrodes attached to the head. The brain cells communicate with each other using electrical impulses, which can be detected by modern equipment.
According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, artificial intelligence and brain impulses have been tested to control prosthetics when they work together. Carrying the concept to wheelchairs, a potential user will need to wear a skullcap and undergo training for a few days. They can then just think about going left, and the wheelchair will turn left, or they could have the wheelchair programmed as per their liking.
However, moving the wheelchair through a disorderly environment will be a big challenge for the user and put a lot of strain on their brains. A strained brain gives out multiple signals, which the wheelchair’s computer can easily misinterpret.
This is where artificial intelligence will come into play. With shared control, the user will not have to give the command over and over again consciously. Instead, the computer will take the command once and follow it until the following command comes in from the user. The system will filter out any other brain activity.
The wheelchair will require a collision warning system that uses radars and cameras to detect any obstacles along the wheelchair’s path. Once the system detects an obstacle, it maneuvers the wheelchair to either go around it or stop at a distance.
The user will be able to override all automatic systems on the wheelchair. For instance, a user wants to approach a table and directs the wheelchair towards it. As soon as it comes near the table, the collision system takes over, and the wheelchair attempts to avoid it. The user can then override the collision system and get as close to the table as they like.
There are Some Limitations
It is not as easy as it sounds. Scientists are still discovering how to use brain impulses to control external objects because EEGs have limited accuracy. It is difficult to differentiate and detect a wide range of commands.
But the Concept Can Change the World
People dependent on others for their basic movement know the value of independence and freedom. Giving them what they desire the most in this world will bring out happiness levels second to none.
The concept of combining brain impulses with artificial intelligence is still under development. Still, we believe that it will be a revolutionary invention and change the world for people with paralysis and other severe disabilities.
The Carrier is a Multipurpose Futuristic Wheelchair
The Carrier is a wheelchair that can be called a Swiss army knife of wheelchairs. It was a prototype designed to make everyday activities much easier for the user. The wheels transformed into tracks, which enabled the wheelchair to climb stairs.
It can even help the user stand up and reach for high objects by themselves and without asking for assistance. The wheelchair supports the legs and the user’s lower body, making them stand up so they can access areas that are impossible to reach while sitting down.
Another helpful feature on the wheelchair is a trapdoor that opens up when the user needs to go to the bathroom. There is no need for painstaking shifting to the commode. The Carrier’s height and design allow it to slide over most commodes, which you can use while sitting in the wheelchair.
This wheelchair eliminates the need for external assistance and special lifts. It focuses more on independence and is designed to handle multiple situations.
Last Few Words
The technologies on the brain-controlled wheelchair and the Carrier are still under development phases. However, with the rapid advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence agency, we might not have to wait too long before we see these marvelous inventions go under production.
As of now, we think that advanced technology on wheelchairs is still under development for two very good reasons:
Firstly, the inventors need to work in a very limited environment, meaning they cannot significantly exceed the size of the wheelchair. Futuristic wheelchairs require higher capacity batteries and more efficient motors to carry around heavy weights, but without adding extra weight. But as components become smaller and more efficient, we might see them applied to wheelchairs in the near future.
Secondly, modern technology is costly, and only the super-rich can afford technology-equipped wheelchairs. The higher prices lead to limited demand, which leads to little production. However, compared to what robotics cost a decade ago, they have become much more affordable and readily available. We optimistically believe that components and technologies will become even more affordable in the near future and allow for the mass production of futuristic wheelchairs.
Do you think that such advanced wheelchairs will become a reality? Do you think they will ever become affordable?