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The Connected Wheelchair

It's great to hear that someone is showing so much interest in technology and how it could help wheelchair users lead a safer life. The commitment of one such individual Tim Balz is fantastic and his aim is to help others through connected technology i.e. the web. Tim had an idea while still at school on how he could make a difference to other peoples lives and now as an Intel Intern he has the opportunity to make his dream come true.

As a mechanical engineering student in the US, Tim has lead a team of engineers to design a technology platform that can convert a regular wheelchair or a powerchair in to a data-driven machine.

Listed as one of the 'Coolest of Internet Designs' The Connected Wheelchair concept is proving very very popular. So how does it work and what does it do to help the average wheelchair user ?

Using an off the shelf Intel development kit, Tim and his team developed a wheelchair add-on that collects biometrical information from the user along with mechanical information from the wheelchair and analyses it to ensure that all is well. In addition to this the concept also has an app that allows wheelchair users to map the accessibility of locations to help other visitors to the same area.

Such is the interest in this invention that Dr Stephen Hawkin has shown interest and comments:"Medicine can't cure me, so I rely on technology. It lets me interface with the world. It propels me," says Hawking. "A wheelchair user can now monitor important information about their health, the status of their wheelchair, and the accessibility of the places they visit…Significantly improving their day-to-day life." Dr Hawkin also congratulated Tim and his team on how the Connected Wheelchair is a great example of how technology can greatly benefit the disable.

Tim Balz is already familiar with wheelchair technology and helping others. At a young age at school in Indiana, Tim restored discarded electric wheelchairs recycling them so they were fit for use by others and went on to form Freedom Chairs, a non-profit making organisation that continues this practice of supplying electric wheelchairs to others.

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