Monday, June 29, 2009

Stephen Hawking, Your Chair Is Ready: Brain Wave-Controlled Wheelchair

Toyota has built an actual wheelchair that can be powered by human thoughts. Seriously.
Victims of disease and injury confined to a wheelchair but without the ability to move are often at the will of others. This technology will, hopefully, allow these individuals to drive their wheelchair around using brainwaves read by what looks like a strange shower cap hooked up to an electroencephalograph scanner. The movement of the vehicle is fairly seamless -- but stopping is difficult. Users have to puff a cheek to actually bring the chair to a stop.
Sure, because that makes about as much sense to us as any explanation Toyota can come up with for how they get the brain shower cap to work. All we know is we're fairly sure this technology was derived from Professor X.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The New Generation Of Powerchairs: Drill Power??

For those who find strapping a gas motor to a manual chair to be a little overkill, how about a chair using a power drill as a motor?  Yes, DPX Systems has created a system that can utilize to power of a cordless drill as a power supplement for those who use a manual chair.  The system weighs about 14 lbs and can power the chair for about 4 miles of constant use at a speed of around 10-12 mph.  It appears to be easily movable to any manual chair and can be removable with a few screws.  The beauty of this idea is that the motors and batteries can easily be found at any hardware shop and the user has the ability to carry extra batteries (since they are very small) for added range.   This could prove to be a nice and cheaper alternative to other power assist devices out there for manual chair users.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lurch Robotic Wheelchair

The following clip is of Lurch, a robotic wheelchair created by Artificial Intelligence & Robotics Lab at Politecnico di Milano, Italy.  What is so special about this wheelchair, you ask?  Well, this wheelchair appears to show a developmental prototype to creating a totally autonomous wheelchair that does not require the user to drive the chair.  For those with no ability to operate any type of controls for a wheelchair, this could provide the option of just merely having the user inputting the desired destination and having the wheelchair just drive the user (safely) there, all while avoiding obstacles and negotiating the outside environment.  While this is just a research prototype, this could be the beginning of a new type of wheelchair that could open doors to many more people who could not previously operate a chair.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Power Suit To Help Aides

Could this be the future tool to help aides lift patients? The following clip is of a new suit that can be worn by aides and nurses to boost their strength thereby allowing the wearer to lift and carry more than double the weight of a normal person. This suit is currently being tested and refined in Japan where the population of people over 65 is increasing exponentially. By using this suit, this will eliminate the need to have multiple people to help lift and transport a patient.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Work From Home: Virtual Call Center

Virtual call centers offer people with disabilities one viable work-from-home option. Many companies today employ people to answer phones without ever having to come in to a central work location. The company saves on building space and equipment costs while retaining more of their workforce. You, the employee, get some perks out of the arrangement as well.
Virtual call center jobs offer several benefits over the traditional work model of traveling to the office every day:

• Flexible Hours. You can pick and choose work hours to suit your schedule.
• No Dress Code.
• No Commute. If you are at home, you are also at work.

You may be hired by a single company to handle calls. Hilton Hotels, 1-800-flowers and Jet Blue are some of the best known virtual call center employers. Or you may work for one or several smaller companies that have contracted with an outsourcing company to procure virtual call center personnel. Outsourcing companies such as Alpine Access are actively hiring more than a thousand new employees annually, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
Virtual call center agents generally perform one or more of the following tasks:

• Customer Service.
• Telemarketing.
• Third-party Verification.
• Technical Support.

Depending on which area you will be working in, you will need particular skills and perhaps experience. Good grammar and a professional voice are important. Previous employment in telemarketing is a bonus, but retail sales or other customer service positions can help you get hired. Often, basic math and writing skills are desirable, as well as familiarity with word processing. Many companies require proof of graduation from high school or a GED, and eligibility to work in the U.S.

You will be expected to provide and maintain some basic equipment, most or all of which you already have. While every company’s specific list will differ, here are some common requirements:

• Desktop computer. Most employers frown on laptops.
• Broadband Internet Connection.
• Land Line with Corded Phone.
• Instant Messaging Account such as AIM, Yahoo Messenger, or Skype.
• Email Account. You may be required to have an account with a specific provider.
• Web Browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
• Printer. Only certain companies require a printer.
• Quiet Work Space. Some employers require a room with a door, or even a locking door.

It is difficult to compare your options when compensation can vary considerably from one company to another. There are three payment methods:

• Per Call.
• Per Minute.
• Per Hour.

Virtual call center agents are usually hired over the phone and receive training on their computer. Avoid companies that want to charge you for training. The only up-front fee you should be asked to pay is a small (about $50) amount for a background check.
Some work-from-home employers require that you work a minimum number of hours weekly, while others will not guarantee a bottom line. If you are an independent contractor, working for more than one company at a time may help boost your income.