AT & T has partnered with wheelchair manufacturer Perimobil to develop a concept version of a “smart” wheelchair that connects wirelessly to the Internet.

The chair feeds data to the cloud and will enable users and healthcare providers to make changes based on the information.

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One of the most important capabilities is monitoring seat cushion pressure range. Pressure sores are a major health risk for folks who use wheel chairs. Using Permobil’s Virtual Seating Coach app, information on the state of the seat cushion pressure is fed to the cloud and assessed by healthcare providers, so that necessary adjustments can be made.

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Information about battery levels and maintenance can also be send\t to dealers, so they’ll be able to better schedule maintenance and allot the proper amount of time needed for service calls. Since users need their chairs for mobility, this is an important part of quality of life.

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GPS location services make it easier to direct users for demos and appointments, and also can give caregivers peace of mind. It’s also a way to locate the valuable chair if it ever stolen. The wheelchair’s accelerometer could send a notice if the chair were to tip over and use the GPS to send help to the location of the chair.

AT&T VP Mike Troiano said,“The connected wheelchair is a great example of how the AT&T Foundry can quickly collaborate with a customer on a proof of concept to bring connectivity and intelligence to a new range of devices.”

Future versions of the chair could feature medial monitoring of the user as well as mechanical monitoring for the chair. This could allow for greater independence for the user.

~ Cynthia