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Wheelie! A Universal Wheelchair.

Wheelie is a feature-rich wheelchair designed to aid any kind of a paralyzed human. It minimizes any other person's assistance making the paralyzed person cherish a feel of independent life. Paralysis can be quadriplegic, paraplegic or hemiplegic.

The purpose of this project is to assist a paralyzed person in any way possible so that he may not have to suffer the absence of self-mobility. As Jimmy Dean said: 'I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.'

The most basic control wheelie has is the typical joystick control which helps if only the legs are paralyzed but the hands work. But if the person is unable to use his hands, English and Urdu voice commands come in handy. If unfortunately, the person is mute or feels difficulty in speaking, a headset tracking the head tilts enables the person in controlling the wheelchair by head gestures. Last but not least, if the person is paralyzed up to his neck and cannot even move his head, his eye pupil movements can control his chair.

To ensure the safety of the person using the wheelchair, five sonars, one in each direction for obstacle detection and fifth one downward for stair detection, are linked. Joystick Control The joystick provides movement in all four directions with a stopped state when in the middle. Voice Control For voice control, a system is built intelligent enough to identify isolated spoken words recorded via a microphone associated with the headset.

Artificial neural networks are used due to their robustness in a noisy environment. The wheelchair is first trained for the voice of the paralyzed person and then utilized as soon as the accuracy reaches a certain peak. Following voice commands are supported by Wheelie. Head Gesture Control Head gesture control is implemented using gyroscope on the headset to measure the tilt of the head.

The gestures for the head control are listed below: Left tilt: Left direction Right tilt: Right direction Front tilt: Forward Back tilt: Backward Middle: Stop Eye Pupil Control Pupil control is implemented using real-time image processing on continuous frames of the eye captured by a camera mounted on the headset.

Morphological filtering is used. In this mode, a 2 second paused eye blinking is used to turn the mode on or off. Pupil control works as follows: Extreme Left: Left Rotation Extreme Right: Right Rotation Middle Range: Forward Motion All the controls are implemented on the central controller. This central controller sends direction commands to a lower level microcontroller which controls the motors and moves the wheelchair in the specified direction. A graphical user interface (GUI) for a touch screen is designed for quick switching between these controls if required. Future Focus This doesn't just end here.

Our future focus is to eliminate the need of the headset as it poses a block in the vision as well as a load on the head. We are also aimed at integrating a user's health monitoring system in Wheelie to keep the user and his guardians well-informed about the user's health condition. One last feature we are trying to add is making Wheelie fully autonomous.

It would move without any head gesture or eye pupil control. All you have to do is tell Wheelie where you want to go and Wheelie will take you there on its own. Concluding with the words of Stephen Hawking: 'My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you from doing well and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically.'
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Publication:Pakistan Engineering Review
Date:Jun 15, 2019
Words:667
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