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Bengaluru students develop ‘smart’ wheelchair that can be controlled by eye movement

The wheelchair was built by a team comprising Divya M, Kavya G P and D Lakshmi Soumya from MVJ College of Engineering.

wheelchairThe wheelchair’s movement can be controlled by communicating with the caretaker via messages sent and received from a smartphone.

In an innovation expected to be beneficial to the elderly and the specially-abled with locomotor issues, a team of engineering students from Bengaluru has developed a “smart” wheelchair that can be controlled by tracking the eye movement of the user.

The team comprising Divya M, Kavya G P and D Lakshmi Soumya from MVJ College of Engineering told indianexpress.com that they aimed at providing a smart solution to prospective users more than that offered by electric wheelchairs that are now available in the market.

“The eyeball movement is tracked with a set of algorithms. A small USB camera was used that was connected to the raspberry pi, which in turn connected to Arduino (an open-source electronic prototyping platform enabling users to create interactive electronic objects) to help move the motors,” Divya said. She added that the project, now at the prototype-level, was meant to aid paraplegic and quadriplegic people.

Further, the wheelchair’s movement can be controlled by communicating with the caretaker via messages sent and received from a smartphone. “The system consists of four components including an imaging-processing module, wheelchair-controlled module, obstacle-detection module, and appliance-controlled module,” Kavya said.

She added that the image captured from the webcam is sent to Raspberry Pi micro-controller (a low-cost, credit-card-sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV and uses a standard keyboard and mouse) and will be processed using OpenCV to derive the 2D direction of the eye-ball.

At the same time, Soumya added that the coordinates of eye-ball movement are used as the cursor control on the Raspberry Pi screen to control the wheelchair movement via the wheelchair-controlled module. “Ultrasonic sensors are used to detect obstacles and the Arduino connects to the caretaker via an instant messaging app and sends messages during emergencies,” she highlighted.

While the demo version of the wheelchair costs around Rs 20,000, the team is at present testing and researching further to develop it into a final product.

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First published on: 23-11-2021 at 20:16 IST
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