Increasing amount of disabled, severe ill and older people causes growth of demands for various kinds of wheelchairs. No doubts it is conducive to automation and robotization of wheelchairs and their integration into wider environments designed to support disabled people. Presented solutions serve to support and independency of the person.
Main directions of development modern wheelchairs are as follows:
- power wheelchairs with advanced and sophisticated driving system, including all wheel driven, caterpilar tracks, special rollers etc.,
- control systems, including both newest solutions for conventional joystick control, control with any part of users body and sophisticated voice control system, Brain Computer Interfaces, intelligent wheelchiars avoiding obstacles etc.
- increase of comfort for user including automatic adjustment, easy-to-use set-up and special functions made wheelchair friendly during long use,
- integration of wheelchaior and its user with wireless nets, mobile comms systems, GPS etc.
- robotization of wheelchairs, which allows to perform with wheelchair another functions, eg. stair climbing, balance position etc. and makes possible use of wheelchair-side robots accompanied by bed-side robots.
It makes easier to use wheelchairs by active users in developed countries. Poor countries need another apporach, decreasing prices and increasing accessibility to wheelchairs.
Further wheelchairs development depends partly on their interoperability within smart home systems, augmented reality systems and ambient intelligence systems. All these systems contains solutions (both hardware and software) dedicated to disabled, severe ill and older people, significantly increasing their possibilities and independence. Joined together, thanks to effect of synergy, it can be more effective and much chiper compared with traditional (current) solutions. Moreover growth of people, who needs care probably will cause shortage of qualified medical staff, especially physicians, physiotherapists and nurses. In significant percent of causes integrated solutions can relieve them, even if partly only.
Broad offer of possibilities causes neccesity to provide professional selection of the wheelchair. Even the best solution, but unsuiltable or improperly adjusted can cause dislike of user and be his/her another limitation.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.