Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Using a wheelchair at night occasionally brings up the topic of night lighting. wUnderglow, a european based company, has developed a flashlight specifically for manual wheelchair users. As you can see in the clip above, it is a small, battery operated flashlight that has a clip to mount to any hardpoint or tubular area on the chair. It can serve as a flashlight to illuminate your way or used to make yourself more visible at night. If you are in the mood to have a little fun, you can even mount it so that it illuminates the bottom of your chair and set the light to flash in multicolor glory. This is a interesting idea that could be useful to many wheelchair users. Order your light here.
Monday, January 18, 2010
As a follow-up to my previous post, the people at Lux Performance seem to have extra time during the racing off-season to develop a more powerful version of their uber-scooter, The Crippler. Dubbed Crippler II, this version is being built with more power. Lux Performance has released this statement:
"We threw the crippler together at the shop one day and instantly fell in love. Now it goes everywhere with us, turning heads, getting laughs, and maiming those who don't respect it. In fact, we've had so much fun with it, we've decided to build another. Crippler II is currently in development with 40% more torque (60 ft lbs) and an estimated speed of over 60 MPH. Too make matters even worse, we have decided that the world needs these things and are currently taking orders."
That is right. You can buy this ultimate scooter. The only question is whether insurance will cover the cost of purchasing this thing!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
There have been numerous posts on this blog of wheelchairs being fitted with powerful motors, gas or electric, to allow them to go fast. But what if you use a scooter? The people at Lux Performance, a race car team, managed to get their hands on a scooter and, being a race team and all, fitting dropped in a 48 volt Etek motor to create a scooter they call "The Crippler". It transformed an ordinary scooter into a 40+ MPH, hill-climbing, wheelie-riding super scooter. Check out the clip and see their results.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Toyota chose the 2010 Detroit Show to unveil an Auto Access Seat designed for use in the all-new 2011 Sienna minivan, which goes on sale in the States in February 2010. The Auto Access Seat offers owners a transportation solution for elderly and disabled passengers or for that matter, anyone who may need assistance getting in or out of a vehicle.
The seat, which features a one-touch operation and has a lift capacity of up to 330 lbs, rotates 90 degrees and can be lowered to within 19 inches of the ground to further facilitate easier passenger transfers at the exact height required. It also allows up to four inches of slide travel and reclining of up to 24 degrees once the passenger is inside the car.
While we've seen most Japanese automakers offering this option in their domestic market models, Toyota is the first automaker in North America to offer a factory-installed, rotating, power ascending/descending lift-up seat in of its vehicles.
The Auto Access Seat will be available on Sienna LE and XLE models with the seat fabric matching the vehicle interior fabric. Toyota said that it will come with a three-year/36,000 mile factory warranty.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Using a computerized connector between the brain and muscles in the body, scientists have been able to restore movement to paralyzed limbs. A group of neuroscientists report in Nature today that they used a brain-computer interface to join the motor cortex of an ape to the muscles in its wrist. After scientists paralyzed the ape's arm temporarily, it was still able to make its wrist move my sending electrical impulses directly from its brain to the muscles, bypassing the damaged nerves in between. The study has profound implications for people whose nerves have been severed or damaged, leaving them paralyzed.
What is particularly interesting about this research is that it shows the versatility of the motor cortex when combined with a brain-computer interface (BCI). Previous research showed that people could learn to move a cursor on screen by linking to specific areas of the motor cortex. This new study showed that any area of the motor cortex could be "repurposed" to activate muscles in the body via BCI.
"Until now, brain-computer interfaces were designed to decode the activity of neurons known to be associated with movement of specific body parts. Here, the researchers discovered that any motor cortex cell, regardless of whether it had been previously associated with wrist movement, was capable of stimulating muscle activity. This finding greatly expands the potential number of neurons that could control signals for brain-computer interfaces and also illustrates the flexibility of the motor cortex."
Human implementations for the technology are at least a decade away, but this discovery could be a game-changer for dealing with paralysis. One possibility would be to connect the motor cortex with an area of the spine below an injury. Signals would be re-routed around the damaged spinal cord, and could allow the brain to regain control of the paralyzed body parts affected by the injury.