Owen Kent, Alejandro Garcia, Adam Hutz, Pierre Karashchuk, Daniel Lim, Pierluigi Mantovani, Facundo Severi, Corten Singer, and Tomás Vega
Power wheelchair users often depend on their chairs for far more than just physical mobility: cameras, microphones, tablets, speakers, and life support devices all form a powerful ecosystem of technologies that provide users access to information, enable online social interactions, and permit the manipulation of objects in the user’s environment through bluetooth and other wireless connections. While away from their power chairs, however–whether lying in bed, traveling in an unpowered chair, or experiencing a power failure–some users will find themselves unable to access both the virtual networks that define modern existence, and also physical systems in their immediate vicinity. This disabling effect of being without the power chair-provided subsystems puts the user in an obviously disadvantaged, and possibly even dangerous, position. To solve this problem we have developed an IoT-meets-hardware solution: Universal Mouse and Hardware Controller is a combination web interface, mouth joystick, and mount-anywhere tablet setup through which users can open doors, turn on lights, and power appliances in their home. This system allows its users to fully engage with their home’s physical characteristics and, furthermore, to be able to access their phones, tablets, or computer interfaces, even while separated physically from their power chair environments. By developing this system we hope to restore access to a variety of people during times when a power wheelchair may either be unavailable or undesirable.