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 into a kit called as Wheelie 7. It only takes 7 minutes to be installed in any motorized wheelchair available in the market. The kit comes with an onboard computer, a 3D camera, and all accessories. The camera captures the expressions translating them into commands to control the wheelchair. A gripper called the Gimme controls the joystick of the wheelchair.
Can I choose the facial expressions?
Yes. You can pick up 5 out of 9 facial expressions. People have different needs and abilities. The goal is finding 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 it. 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 a raised eyebrow for 4 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 Wheelie. The kit Wheelie 7 already comes with an onboard computer.
Why facial expressions?
Demand: There is a group of people who can not handle a joystick because they lost partially or fully the control of the hands. Performing facial expressions is one of the latest skills humans can lose. Of course, there is a subgroup made up of people who can not perform facial expressions for whom we are also creating innovative solutions.
Natural ability: The human being is great on doing facial expressions. We have used them in our conversations, whether spoken or text using emojis. We performed facial expressions since childhood. A face can provide various expressions and this is great to control and to drive things.
HOOBOX Robotics
HOOBOX Robotics, a São Paulo-based company, was founded in May 2016 after the postdoctoral project of Dr. Paulo Gurgel Pinheiro (Co-Founder and CEO) at Brazil’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, State University of Campinas (FEEC / Unicamp). 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 a person to control a wheelchair with simple facial expressions. Today, our team consists of engineers, scientists, doctor and physical therapist passionate about innovation.
Intel® Software Innovator program, FAPESP, and Inova Unicamp, the Innovation Agency of the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP).