Internet of Things, a concept that is being utilized by most tech companies. Currently devices are able to go online and communicate with each other. Samsung is also banking on smart homes. The company launched the AddWash, Internet-connected washing machine that includes a small door to let you add forgotten items like socks, a SleepSense which is a sleep tracker you slip under your mattress to track your rest and SmartThings Home automation Hub and sensors.
A wireless wheelchair was introduced at the CTIA Wireless industry conference by Sweden’s Permobil. The wheelchair is connected through an AT&T connection. The wheelchair taps a cellular connection to relay results of diagnostic tests, it passes an alert if it has fallen over and provide family members with the ability to track a loved one.
“It’s the simplicity of the problem-solving that is the coolest part of the innovation,”Glenn Lurie, chief executive of AT&T’s mobility unit, said in an interview.
The wheelchair is currently a prototype and was brought to the CTIA conference to demonstrate a connected product. The company is planning to start selling them next year.
CNET reports that before the project kicked off, Permobil’s primary goal was to research ways the chair could send diagnostic information to a remote office tasked with maintaining and managing a fleet of wheelchairs, which can travel as fast as 7.5 miles per hour and have a range of 16 miles.
“As we got in there, we started to ask what else we could with the chair,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president in charge of Internet of Things at AT&T, in an interview.
The wheelchair has an accelerometer which is mostly used to detect motion in smartphones. The accelerometer is used to notify someone if it falls. They also developed separate dashboards, one for a technician examining the wheelchair’s status and another for a clinician looking at the person.
Prominent people like George H.W. Bush and Stephen Hawking are already using Permobil products because they have specific medical needs and instructions on how to specifically sit in the chair.
The wheelchair can also be tracked hence it can be located through the cellular radio. Olof Hedin, chief information officer of Permobil, said users could set up a “geofence,” a virtual perimeter that would trigger an alert if the wheelchair crossed past it.
“We’re really unlocking the potential to create the coolest wheelchair out there,” Penrose said.