Late last month, we regaled you with a story about Toyota's advanced collision detection technology
that uses sensory data to trigger an automatic slowdown in cars. Clearly, one of the research teams at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology is paying attention to what their countrymen in Toyota are doing -- for they've just come up with a similar system in wheelchairs
. Recently developed with the collaboration of the National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities in Japan, the new "intelligent wheelchair" has a set of cameras pointed in all directions mounted above the head of the rider to provide a complete 360-degree field of view. If the cameras detect potential hazards nearby, the wheelchair will slow down
or come to a complete stop. Beyond that, the new 'chair also is decked out with WiFi, eventually being able to transmit the amalgam of video feeds to a cell phone, while also providing a means of remote control. In addition, the wheelchair will look for signs of unusual posture (we're not sure how this message is conveyed in a polite, Japanese way) and will also feature a way for the rider to direct movement of the chair simply by gesturing -- you know, so you can get your moment of glory by striking your best Washington crossing the Delaware River pose. Be sure and catch a bigger pic of the camera orb on the flip side...