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Toyota Corporation Developing Brain-Wave Driven Wheelchair

  • Date: 2009/06/29 (Rev. 2014/03/20)
  • Disabled World
  • Synopsis : Commentary on the development by the Toyota Corporation involving a Brain Wave driven wheelchair.

Main Document

In an article presented through Yahoo yesterday, the Toyota corporation has developed a means of reading a person's brain waves so that they may control their wheelchair without having to either physically move, or shout a command. Should this technology one day become available, the benefit to people with certain disabilities could be overwhelming.

Technology which could become very beneficial to persons with disabilities continues to be developed through corporations that may one day reach the market.

In an article presented through Yahoo yesterday, the Toyota corporation has developed a means of reading a person's brain waves so that they may control their wheelchair without having to either physically move, or shout a command. Should this technology one day become available, the benefit to people with certain disabilities could be overwhelming.

According to the article, systems in the past have taken a number of seconds in order to read someone's brain waves. The technology that Toyota has just developed does the same task in 125 thousandths of a second; something I find to be incredible. The corporation is still pursuing research into this technology, which is why it is not being released for sale. The Honda corporation is reaching for similar technologies.

Wheelchairs have certainly come a long way from the old Everest & Jennings models of the past, where the term, 'options,' meant whether or not you had plastic armrests or padded ones. Now people have an incredible number of options related to the purchase of a wheelchair. Power chairs come with so many options now that I won't even start to list them. There are wheelchairs meant for traveling over all kinds of terrain, to include sandy beaches and forest paths. Some of the wheelchairs I have personally seen have reminded me more of All-Terrain Vehicles than anything else.

With the capability to control these power chairs through a person's brain waves, persons who experience quadriplegia, or have rheumatoid arthritis, for example, could gain a sense of mobility they may not have experienced before. The level of independence this technology that both Toyota and Honda are pursuing could give so many people who have mobility limitations freedoms that may not have enjoyed. The use of this technology in combination with a wheelchair that has the capability to climb stairs could open up whole avenues of pursuit to people who might not otherwise know them.

All of this technology is for naught, of course, without the ability to afford it as well.

Both the Toyota and the Honda corporations are pursuing this technology with the intention of applying it to automobiles, primarily. They are also researching this technology in order to make a profit. When and if this technology is made available for sale, medical corporations that decide to purchase it will have to do their own research, at considerable costs. The end result will be that whatever applications are passed down to consumers through medical products will most likely be highly-expensive.

Medicare and Medicaid will undoubtedly not cover such products as will be the end results of all of this incredible technology. What this means to people with disabilities such as you and me is that the very technology that could help us the most is being kept away from us because of money issues. Maybe one day large corporations; both medical and non-medical, will make part of their research grants and funding inclusion of sales of technologies of this type to people with disabilities at rates that we can afford. Perhaps one day these types of technologies will reach the people who need it the most, despite financial issues.

In the meantime, the innovation and creativity of the people at Toyota and Honda is to be applauded. While money market economies are keeping technologies from reaching large populations who can use them the most, the products these companies are producing are incredible. When I look for hope in the world, it many times comes from corporations such as these.





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