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Colorado Springs Air Force cadets working on new ‘gaze-assisted wheelchair’ to help those with mobility issues

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)-- Cadets at the Air Force Academy are building a new system to help those confined to a wheelchair. The goal behind this technology is to help those who have mobility-related disabilities become more independent. The new ‘gaze-assisted wheelchair’ is a combination of a five-year effort from Air Force Academy students. It's an effort that started back in 2020 and will soon be shared.

This gaze-assisted wheelchair aims to move in the direction you are looking. Based on where you are looking. It should be as easy as looking toward the direction you want to go and the wheelchair will follow. The new piece of machinery is currently being worked on by five Air Force cadets. 

"What we challenged these students with and the groups that have proceeded them is to create a gaze or an eye gaze interface for a mobility device. In this case, they're using a wheelchair, but what we are trying to do is control the wheelchair only with using their eyesight and voice command," said Brain J. Neff, Project Mentor. He said the purpose behind this type of work is to allow students to be a part of something bigger.  

"We want to be able to take it in crowds, outside, downtown different light environments, different terrains that kind of stuff," said Cade Isley a cadet who is working on the wheelchair. His reason for being a part of this project is extra special. 

"My little cousin has a rare mitochondrial disease so when she was born doctors said she wasn't going to be able to move around talk at all, but she had too much to say. She goes to high school now, she uses a walker," added Isley.

This would be a big help for her and many others. Once it's all done, the user will be able to get on the wheelchair, put on the ski-like goggles, which are made up of a hallo lens tube, and they'll be able to control the software with only their eyesight. 

"As they move where their gaze is focused or where their eyes are focused they're controlling the interface for that device as well," added Neff.

Before graduation, the five cadets will present the prototype. From there, the team will determine if updates are needed to move forward with the process of getting it on the market. 

 

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Andrea Herrera

Andrea is an MMJ and Anchor for Telemundo Surco and KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about her here.

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