Hoobox Robotics, a robotics company based in São Paulo, Brazil, has developed the "Wheelie 7", a wheelchair controlled using facial recognition technology. Incorporating AI developed by Intel, the technology allows users to control the movements of a motorized wheelchair using just their faces. The technology is envisaged as being particularly helpful for users who cannot use their hands to control a motorized device. The tech consists of a 3D camera that records a user's facial expressions (no body sensors are required) and an on-board computer that interprets the expressions and sends commands to control the movement of the wheelchair. The company claims that their facial recognition system is so sensitive that it can differentiate ten different levels of pain, detect drowsiness, agitation, and sedation, and can even detect when a person will sneeze before the event occurs.
Facial recognition software has earned a difficult reputation over the past few years, what with its massive privacy implications and ease of being misused by governments and retailers alike, but the technology has just as many beneficial applications. Take the Wheelie 7, for example. While travelling a few years ago, Dr. Paulo Pinheiro was struck by a scene unfolding before him. "I saw a girl at the airport, she was in a wheelchair," he explained to Engadget. "She couldn't move her arms or her legs, her father was helping her with her wheelchair but she had a great smile... so I thought it would be a good idea to try to translate that smile into commands that could move a wheelchair."
Motorized wheelchairs are traditionally controlled by a joystick or sensors attached to the user's body, but now innovation in artificial intelligence is helping severely disabled people drive their chairs with their facial expressions. Working in partnership with Intel, Brazil-based Hoobox Robotics has created the Wheelie 7, a piece of AI-leveraging kit that allows disabled people to control a motorized wheelchair though 10 facial expressions, from raising eyebrows to sticking out tongues. The tech learns about the user's gestures automatically and takes just seven minutes to install (hence the name "Wheelie 7"). Using an app, the user -- with assistance from a caregiver -- can assign which expressions are linked to the chair's movements. 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 and uses AI algorithms to process data in real time to direct the wheelchair.
Intel's new AI facial recognition kit could revolutionize mobility for wheelchair users. At CES, the firm demonstrated its incredible technology in the Hoobox Robotics' Wheelie 7 kit, which can be retrofitted to existing motorized chairs to give the rider control using only their facial expressions. This means wheelchair-users with impaired motor control in their arms and hands could drive themselves around without assistance, using uniquely programmed gestures such as an outstretched tongue to direct the chair's motion. Many wheelchair users, including quadriplegics and people with neurological diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), are unable to press directional buttons or push the joystick required to drive a motorized chair. But, the new technology from Intel and Hoobox aims to change that.
A man was captured on camera doing wheelies in a motorized shopping trolley in the streets of Adelaide, Australia. The shopping cart in question is equipped with a steering wheel and a seat along with a motor on the back that let the man rev up the engine when he wanted. In the video, that has since gone viral on social media, the man was seen riding down the street in the shopping cart, when he realized that someone was filming his antics. He flashed a big smile at the camera and a thumbs up, continuing on his way. After a second or two, he lifts up the shopping cart on its rear wheels in perfect balance as he performed a wheelie.