US-based LUCI, a company which specialises in modern mobility solutions, has released a pioneering new powered wheelchair device, also called LUCI, which enables powerchairs to “see” their environment.
LUCI is a unique hardware and software platform that uses sensor-fusion technologies to attach to powered wheelchairs, giving users and carers helpful updates about both the chair and the user.
The product mounts onto a powerchair between the power base and the seat to help users avoid collisions and dangerous drop-offs, while maintaining personalised driving control. Through cloud-based capabilities, LUCI can also monitor and alert users and caregivers of low battery, possible tipping scenarios and other important updates.
“Wheelchair users were left behind when it comes to most innovative technology,” said Barry Dean, CEO and Founder of LUCI, whose daughter Katherine, 19, has cerebral palsy and has used a wheelchair her whole life.
“We realised no one else was working on this problem in a meaningful way so my brother Jered (Dean, CTO of LUCI) and I set out to create a solution for Katherine. What started as a labour of love among family members has ultimately created a safer, more stable way for people with disabilities to navigate their world and stay connected to loved ones.”
Additionally, the attachment gives users stability, security and cloud connectivity.
The LUCI team spent the past two and half years collaborating with clinical professionals and logging over 25,000 hours of user testing to develop an invention to help people with physical disabilities drive safely, precisely and independently. The smart device currently has 16 patents, with eight patents pending.
LUCI’s technology combines stereovision, infrared, ultrasonic and radar sensors, which offers the following features:
Collision avoidance: LUCI is designed to prevent wheelchair users from running into objects as they navigate their daily lives. It does this by smoothly helping to navigate the chair in coordination with user steering inputs based on obstacle detection in the driver’s surroundings.
Drop-off protection: The smart powerchair add-on helps users avoid tipping by recognising steps or drop-offs and smoothly helping the chair continue on a safer path.
Anti-tipping alert system: LUCI monitors the steepness of a ramp or the ground users are driving on and provides an audible alert if it becomes a tipping danger. In the event that a chair tips over, LUCI sounds an alarm and can be configured to quickly alert other individuals, such as a caregiver or loved one, of the exact location of the rider and the tipped chair.
Cloud-based communications and alerts: The MyLUCI portal allows users to view their data and share it with loved ones or clinicians. LUCI can be set up to alert others of specific events, such as the user’s location if their battery gets dangerously low. The attachment also works with Hey Google and Amazon Alexa so users can interact with MyLUCI using their voice. MyLUCI portal is available as mobile apps for both iOS and Android phones, as well as for desktop with the Web Portal.
Secure health monitoring: LUCI users can choose to share their heart rate data with their team using either Google Fit or Apple HealthKit.