A funny thing happens when people start to use Wheelie, an AI system that translates facial expressions into movements for motorized wheelchairs, said to Hoobox Robotics
CEO Paulo Gurgel Pinheiro.
"The facial expression to move forward is a kiss, so when the users [first] perform a kiss, their wheelchair starts to move forward, and they feel so happy that they start to smile, but a smile is to stop the wheelchair, and so the wheelchair stops," he said.
The Wheelie kit uses the Intel RealSense 3D camera to add facial expression control to any motorized wheelchair and was first conceived through research by Pinheiro and others at a university in Brazil
. Today, trials are underway for an initial batch of 60 users in the United States.
On average, Pinheiro said, users travel roughly half a mile a day and send more than 400 signals to the system.