Questions answered in one place
What is The Wheelie?
The Wheelie is the first computer program capable of extracting user's facial expressions to control a wheelchair without the need to place sensors on the user's body and capable of providing great efficiency allowing the user to drive the wheelchair on a daily basis.
How does The Wheelie work?
The Wheelie comes in a kit called The Wheelie 7. It only takes seven minutes to install on any motorized wheelchair available in the market. The kit comes with an onboard computer, a 3D camera, and all necessary accessories. The camera captures the user’s expressions, translating them into commands to control the wheelchair. A gripper called The Gimme controls the wheelchair’s the joystick.
Can I choose the facial expressions?
Yes. You can pick up to five out of nine available facial expressions. People have different needs and abilities. The goal is to find facial cues that are comfortable for, say, stroke patients to perform. Most people prefer to use the kissy face to drive forward, a half smile to turn right, tongue out to drive backward, a wrinkled nose to turn left, and a full smile to stop the wheelchair.
Can I have a conversation while driving?
We have been working hard on this feature. Currently, our classifier allows the user to have a moderate conversation while driving. The system understands that the user is talking, so the expressions will not interfere. Also, you can always disable and enable the interface by holding raised eyebrows for four seconds.
Should I buy a new wheelchair or a new computer?
No. If you already have a motorized wheelchair with a joystick, you are good to use The Wheelie. The Kit Wheelie 7 comes with an onboard computer.
Why facial expressions?
Demand: There is a group of people who cannot handle a joystick because they lost partial or full control of their hands. Use of facial expressions is one of the last skills humans can lose. Of course, there is a subgroup made up of people who cannot perform facial expressions for whom we are also creating innovative solutions.
Natural Ability: Human beings are great at making facial expressions. We use them in our conversations, whether spoken or in text by using emoji. We perform facial expressions from childhood. A face can provide various expressions, and they are a great tool with which to control and drive devices
HOOBOX Robotics
HOOBOX Robotics, a São Paulo–based company, was founded in May 2016 after the completion of a postdoctoral project by Dr. Paulo Gurgel Pinheiro (Co-Founder and CEO) at School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, State University of Campinas (FEEC / Unicamp / Brazil). The focus was to study and develop innovative solutions to control a wheelchair. In 2016, along with Cláudio Pinheiro (co-founder) and Prof. Eleri Cardozo (mentor/consultant), HOOBOX Robotics began developing technology that allows users to control a wheelchair with simple facial expressions. Today, our team consists of engineers, scientists, doctors, and physical therapists passionate about innovation.
Intel® Software Innovator program, FAPESP, and Inova Unicamp, the Innovation Agency of the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP).