Sensor-clad shirt directs wheelchair sans use of arms, hands
byDarren Murph||November 22nd 2006 at 1:27pmNovember 22nd 2006 1:27 pm
If you think playing tennis (or pwning your television) with a Wiimote is revolutionary, how'd you feel about wheeling through downtown sidewalks without ever moving your fingers, hands, or arms? Doctors and researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Pisa have crafted a sensor-laden shirt "that could help seriously paralyzed individuals steer their wheelchairs." The garment is printed with "52 flexible, piezoresistive sensors made of electroactive polymers that change voltage depending on the angle at which they are stretched." By dynamically sensing the direction and intentions of the user, it can channel the signals to motorized chairs in order to perspicaciously propel severely handicapped individuals who have lost the use of their arms. The team has tested the unit on a paralyzed individual (pictured) in a virtual training maze, where the shirt "learned and adapted" to his specific notions to guide him successfully through the course. While the team envisions the shirt becoming even more useful by possibly adding shoulder sensors for other types of disabilities, they haven't ruled out its use in "other applications" -- and hey, we've got no digs with adding even more motion-sensing goodness to our games.