Spinal injury is the most common cause of quadriplegia, though there are many diseases that can produce the same result – inability to produce controlled movement in any of your limbs or head. For people in this situation independent control of their wheelchairs is not possible – the technology just isn’t available. Independent mobility increases quality of life significantly, and its loss is keenly felt by those robbed of it, through accident or disease.

The scale of the problem is enormous. ALS is responsible for only a tiny fraction of the people in this situation, yet there are five thousand ALS sufferers at any one time in the UK alone, and twenty thousand in the US. Most of them will end up sitting immobile in their wheelchairs, unable to move on their own. Eyedrivomatic could help most of them.

The Concept

As someone living with advanced ALS, the inventor of Eyedrivomatic Patrick Joyce understood well the mobility issues facing people in his position. Like many others, he didn’t actually own either the wheelchair or the eyegaze system that he used . He needed something that would interface with the user’s chair mounted computer, and physically move the joystick. Crucially this would mean that there would be  no need to make any modifications to existing user hardware, and that it could work with virtually any wheelchair and eyegaze combination.

The solution Patrick came up with is called Eyedrivomatic, and is a two-part system – a Windows application to interface with an eyegaze system, and a device we call the ‘electronic hand’, that contains servos to move the wheelchair’s joystick and three relays for switch activation.

Our Solution

The Eyedrivomatic is an inexpensive way for people with motorized wheelchairs and eyegaze equipment to take control of their mobility.  No modification of the wheelchair is required, and it is compatible with most wheelchair controllers and eyegaze systems. The system produces smooth, safe movement capable of accurate control even on rear wheel drive chairs. All functions of the wheelchair can be operated with Eyedrivomatic, much as somebody with normal hand movement could.

The Eyedrivomatic has two basic parts – the Eyedrivomatic software, which interfaces with the eyegaze system, and the Electronic Hand, a device that fits over the joystick of an electronic wheelchair and takes commands from the software.

The Hardware

The Eyedrivomatic Electronic Hand is a gimbal system that fits over the wheelchair’s normal joystick and can provide approximately 20 degrees of movement in any direction. By using a device that physically moves the joystick, we emulate the only protocol used by every wheelchair… the human hand.

The Software

The Eyedrivomatic application runs on the Windows OS and in coordination with the users eyegaze system converts eye movements to commands to move the wheelchair or activate wheelchair functions.