Numotion introduces Independence Drive, an alternative drive control system engineered to enable powered wheelchair users to control their chair using only their eyes.
Independence Drive Enables Power Wheelchair Control Using Only Eyes
The concept originated when Steve Gleason, a former NFL player who played for the New Orleans Saints from 2000-2008 and is living with ALS, issued a challenge during a Microsoft hackathon in 2014. His challenge was to help improve technology for people with ALS and other disabilities that would enable them to move their wheelchairs through eye tracking. Microsoft created a research prototype that demonstrates the feasibility of eye-controlled wheelchair navigation. That work inspired Gleason’s foundation, Team Gleason, to independently pursue developing a system to enable control of wheelchairs via eye tracking, a media release from Numotion explains.
“There are still no treatments for ALS, but because of technology, people like me are able to remain productive and purposeful for years, even decades,” Gleason says, in the release. “Unfortunately, when I was diagnosed, the available technology was severely lacking and incredibly expensive. Because of this, Team Gleason decided that we would work with innovative partners to develop and provide cutting edge, cost-effective solutions to stay independent.” Evergreen Circuits, in partnership with Team Gleason and Jay Smith, who is also living with ALS and is the former CEO and Founder of Livid Instruments, an Austin, Texas-based music technology company, took the concept and created what is now Independence Drive. Gleason and Smith have personally been using the technology on their own wheelchairs since 2015. Numotion has signed on to market and distribute Independence Drive through its 150 branch locations and its team of more than 400 Assistive Technology Professionals across the country. The system will be available nationally in late May of this year, the release continues. “Independence Drive is one of the most exciting innovations we’ve seen in our industry,” states Mike Swinford, CEO of Numotion. “The technology has the ability to significantly improve the independence and mobility of people living with ALS and others who have limited physical abilities. People fighting neuromuscular diseases have needed a breakthrough like this for quite some time. They deserve better solutions and we are incredibly honored to help bring this technology to market.” Although Independence Drive was originally developed to help patients fighting ALS, there is potential for it to help people with other diseases and medical conditions ranging from spinal cord injuries to Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, and a host of others, the release notes. [Source(s): Numotion, PR Newswire]