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Student moves quadriplegics with Wiimote wheelchair control (video)

Sean Hollister
05.14.10
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There were certainly a couple whiz kids at Intel's International Science and Engineering Fair this year, but high school senior John Hinckel's a regular MacGyver: he built a wheelchair remote control out of a couple sheets of transparent plastic, four sliding furniture rails and some string. A Nintendo Wiimote goes in your hat and tells the whole system what to do -- simply tilt your head in any direction, and accelerometer readings are sent over Bluetooth. The receiving laptop activates microcontrollers, directing servo motors to pull the strings, and acrylic gates push the joystick accordingly to steer your vehicle. We tried on the headset for ourselves and came away fairly impressed -- it's no mind control, but for $534 in parts, it just might do. Apparently, we weren't the only ones who thought so, as patents are pending, and a manufacturer of wheelchair control systems has already expressed interest in commercializing the idea. See the young inventor show it off after the break.




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