Facial gestures, AI moves motorized wheelchair

Moving a motorized wheelchair typically involves a joystick or using a sensors. That may soon change after Hoobox Robotics, a Brazil-based technology company, teamed up with Intel to create software that uses AI to help the disabled drive motorized wheelchairs with facial expressions, according to a report by USA Today.

The Wheelie 7 kit learns a user’s smile and facial gestures, which are used to direct the wheelchair. With help from an app, the facial expressions are assigned to specific commands—such as stop, turn left or go backwards—for the wheelchair. Facial expressions that users can use to drive their wheelchair include: a kissing face, half smile, sticking out their tongue and raising or lowering their eyebrows, according to the report.

“Through a combination of facial recognition software, sensors, robotics and an Intel 3D RealSense Depth Camera that’s been mounted on the wheelchair, Wheelie captures a 3D map of the face uses AI algorithms to process the data in real time that directs the wheelchair,” the report said.

The Wheelie kit isn’t available to the public just yet. It’s currently a prototype being tested by about 60 people who have various disabilities, the report stated. However, the Hoobox company announced plans to “open up 100 additional spots on a waiting list” to try the kit. Those selected will get the kit for free in exchange for user feedback.

To read the full USA Today report, click the link below.