LUCI, the revolutionary smart wheelchair technology, has been announced as a part of Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2020” as one of the “100 innovations changing how we live.”
Tagged for providing the world with “Steadier Power Chairs,” Pauline Cachero, writing for TIME, notes the seemingly overlooked dangers of power wheelchairs – those propelled by electric motors instead of manually turning the wheels. “The devices, which weigh up to 400 lb., are prone to tips and collisions, sometimes resulting in serious injuries like broken bones,” Cachero wrote.
Time Magazine explains that they chose the 100 best inventions for the year from an online application process, as well as nominations from its editors and correspondents from around the world. Prospective techs are then subjected to a criteria of key factors such as originality, creativity, effectiveness, ambition and impact.
Avoiding Power Wheelchair Dangers with LUCI
She then introduced how the concept for LUCI came to be. Barry Dean, a Nashville, Tennessee songwriter, unfortunately, experienced it first-hand. His daughter Katherine lives with cerebral palsy and suffered injuries to her legs and arms when her chair tipped over. Barry, together with his brother Jered, set out to develop LUCI – a power wheelchair accessory that uses a network of sensors to monitor the chair’s status as well as its immediate environment. As the users move around through their joysticks, LUCI collects data, determines the safe path, and adjusts the wheelchair’s response. It allows the user to slow down while passing through slopes or avoiding collisions.
Additionally, it also has an associate secure app, MyLUCI portal, that allows its users to track and share data such as battery status and location.
In a statement to TechTimes, Barry Dean called the announcement “an incredible honor,” noting that it wouldn’t be possible “without the thousands of powerchair riders, caregivers, and mobility professionals who continue to inspire us.”
He added, “When my brother and I started tinkering with my daughter’s wheelchair in the kitchen three years ago, we never dreamed anything like this was possible.” Dean extended gratitude for “going on this adventure with us as we collaborate to bring more attention and, hopefully, more innovation to the world of power wheelchair users.”
Recently, LUCI co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Jered Dean, led the effort in a whitepaper that proposes a framework for assessing “smart technology” in power mobility, such as in wheelchairs. Titled “Judging Smart: A Framework for Assessing “Smart” Technology in Power Mobility Today: Smart Health & Wellness,” the proposed framework can be summarized as getting smart mobility to serve the whole person.
The team behind LUCI also provided their answers to the questions posed in “Judging Smart,” noting that the framework already serves as a guide to how they developed their Time Magazine recognized idea.
Barry Dean explains in a previous statement that by starting to “paint a detailed picture” of what they want users of power wheelchairs to do, they seek to reduce the odds of missing a key factor, or neglecting effects of their tech to its users.
Among the guidelines proposed by the whitepaper includes the description of varying stages of smart health and wellness technology, assigning increasing levels from Level 0 to Level 5. “Judging Smart” also raises six questions developers and users should consider in the evaluation of supposed “smart mobility” technologies, including the safety and security of data gathered, stored, and possibly shared with others.