INSPIRED by a campus mate who used a wheelchair, four students developed an ‘intelligent’ wheelchair for the disabled.
In just four months, the engineering students of Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC) developed a wheelchair prototype that can be navigated through gesture recognition with motion-induced finger movement.
Known as the PlexWheel project, it was a collaboration between TARUC and US-based company Plexus, which funded USD$5,000 (RM22,272.50) and assigned two engineers to guide the students.
Group leader Lee Soon Yee, 23, said the wheelchair would come in handy for the disabled, especially those suffering from Tetraparesis, a neurological condition in which all four limbs are weak or paralysed.
Lee said they came up with their idea after a brainstorming session. Then, they approached Plexus to provide expertise to fine-tune the project.
He said many types of wheelchairs were available in the market, ranging from the ones controlled by a joystick, eye gazes and even brain waves.
“But we discovered that some patients suffering from muscle weakness, like Tetraparesis, have difficulty using the joystick.
“That’s why we are proud of our creation, a wheelchair operated with gesture recognition,” he said.
Lee was giving a briefing on the project at the Plexus Penang Islandview site in Jalan Hilir Sungai Keluang 4, Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone on Thursday.
Also present were Lee’s teammates Lim Jay Ming, Chee Chong Yuong and Low Jiunn Jye, all 23 years old.
Plexus APAC regional president Y.J. Lim said that through the partnership, the students enjoyed first-hand experience in proof of concept, product design, prototyping and the latest software technology.
“The experiment will be invaluable when they enter the workforce,” he said.
The wheelchair prototype is being displayed at Tech Dome Penang this month.