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Wheelie and Gimme, innovative technology to drive motorized wheelchairs

Grant number: 15/22624-1
Support Opportunities:Research Grants - Innovative Research in Small Business - PIPE
Duration: August 01, 2016 - April 30, 2017
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Electrical Engineering
Principal Investigator:Paulo Gurgel Pinheiro
Grantee:Paulo Gurgel Pinheiro
Host Company:Hoobox Robotics Tecnologia do Brasil Ltda. - ME
City: Campinas
Associated grant(s):17/07367-8 - Wheelie, innovative technology for driving motorized wheelchairs, AP.PIPE
Associated scholarship(s):16/15719-9 - Wheelie and Gimme, innovative technology to drive motorized wheelchairs, BP.PIPE


There is an estimate of 45 million people with some sort of disability in Brazil, from which about 10% are potential wheelchair users with extreme difficulty or inability to walk. For instance, the city of São Paulo concentrates the larger amount of these wheelchair users and despite of some regions and neighborhoods that are prepared to support the mobility of disabled people there are still a lot of difficulties, specially on the suburbs. Furthermore, there are some severe disability cases where even the most favorable infrastructure would not suffice for the employment of a regular wheelchair, even electric powered ones. This group encompass people with no superior limbs, suffering from any kind of muscular atrophy or lack of coordination to physically propel a wheelchair or even manipulate a joystick. It is possible to divide wheelchair users into three categories. In the first group there are those who are able to manually propel a wheelchair. For this group, accessibility is related to the infrastructure/environment around them, for instance an adapted house. The second group is composed by users with more severe physical limitations, but the employment of electric powered wheelchairs with a joystick interface is a viable option. The third and last group encompass those people with such severe disability that not even public infrastructures and electric power wheelchairs are enough to provide any mobility support. Many researches have tried to propose interfaces for accessibility aimed at the last group. However, even with the plain social and technological demand there is still a very little effort to spread such solutions out. From a commercial perspective, the main challenge is the complexity in developing such solutions. In order to employ these solutions, in general, the wheelchair must be fitted with onboard processors, microcontrollers and expensive sensory apparatus, becoming a robotic wheelchair. This project aims at developing a commercially viable technological solution (both software and hardware) so people with severe physical disabilities, who are unable to manipulate a traditional joystick, can drive a typical electric powered wheelchair without the need of an expensive customization of such wheelchair. The product has the potential to be first of its kind in Brazil and possibly a worldwide pioneer. On the software aspect of the solution, we'll develop a customizable interface for controlling a wheelchair that relies entirely on the users facial expressions and that can be installed on a conventional portable personal computer. Meanwhile, the hardware solution part will be responsible to easily turn a traditional motorized wheelchair into a robotic one in a single step. With the proposed solution, the user will be able to acquire a typical motorized wheelchair, easily turn it into a robotic wheelchair and employ hands-free interfaces to control it. For this project we intent to: i) develop a hands-free interface that can be embedded on portable personal computers; ii) develop an adaptable prototype of it that could be employed on people with distinct physical limitation; iii) employ facial expressions to control a wheelchair and therefore meeting the demand of interface solutions for subjects without the ability to move their hands or head; iv) meet the challenge of developing a single hardware mechanism that is able to easily turn a regular electric powered wheelchair into a robotic one, that is, ready to receive commands from a computer. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
PINHEIRO, PAULO GURGEL; PINHEIRO, CLAUDIO GURGEL; CARDOZO, ELERI; HOWARD, A; SUZUKI, K; ZOLLO, L. The Wheelie - A Facial Expression Controlled Wheelchair Using 3D Technology. 2017 26TH IEEE INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ROBOT AND HUMAN INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION (RO-MAN), v. N/A, p. 6-pg., . (13/07559-3, 15/22624-1, 16/15719-9)

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Filed patent(s) as a result of this research project

MÉTODO DE ANÁLISE FACIAL PARA CONTROLE DE DISPOSITIVOS BR1020160270650 - Hoobox Robotics Tecnologia do Brasil Ltda ME ; Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) . Eleri Cardozo ; Paulo Gurgel Pinheiro - November 2016, 18

MÉTODO DE ANÁLISE FACIAL PARA CONTROLE DE DISPOSITIVOS BR1320170243183 - Hoobox Robotics Tecnologia do Brasil Ltda ME ; Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) . ELERI CARDOZO / PAULO GURGEL PINHEIRO - November 2017, 13

SISTEMA REMOVÍVEL PARA CONTROLE COMPUTADORIZADO DE CADEIRAS DE RODAS MOTORIZADAS BR1020180695290 - Hoobox Robotics Tecnologia do Brasil Ltda ; Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) . PAULO GURGEL PINHEIRO / ELERI CARDOZO - September 2018, 25

MÉTODO DE ANÁLISE FACIAL PARA CONTROLE DE DISPOSITIVOS PCT/BR2017/000136 - Hoobox Robotics Tecnologia do Brasil Ltda ME ; Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) . Eleri Cardozo ; Paulo Gurgel Pinheiro - November 2017, 17