A Gestural Recognition Interface for Intelligent Wheelchair Users

A Gestural Recognition Interface for Intelligent Wheelchair Users

Ricardo Proença (Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Escola Superior de Tecnologia, Castelo Branco, Portugal), Arminda Guerra (Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Escola Superior de Tecnologia, Castelo Branco, Portugal) and Pedro Campos (Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/jskd.2013040105
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The authors present a new system that exploits novel human-machine interfaces based on the recognition of static gestures of human hands. The aim is to aid the occupant of a wheelchair to have access to certain objects in order to facilitate his or her daily life. The authors’ approach is based on simple computational processes and low-cost hardware. Its development involves a comprehensive approach to computer vision problems based on video image capture, image segmentation, feature extraction, pattern recognition and classification. The importance of this work will be reflected in the way that differently-able users, with the use of new models of interaction, and in a natural and intuitive way, will have their life significantly facilitated.
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2. The Context: Assistive Technologies

For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible. (Radabaugh, 2012)

Historically, technological developments walked towards the facilitation of life. Daily, we use resources particularly developed to assist and simplify the dynamics of everyday life, such as pens, cars, computers, telephones, an endless catalog of tools, which are already an integral part of our routine.

The term Assistive Technology (AT) is used in this study to identify the entire set of resources that can help to provide or extend the operating capabilities of people with disabilities in order to promote independent living and effective social inclusion.

The AT should be seen as support for enhancing the growth of a deficient practice or provide the execution of a desired function that is prevented by reason of disability or aging. Its primary purpose is to provide greater independence, quality of life and social inclusion for people with disability through the expansion of its communication, mobility, control of surrounding environment, and work skills (Bersch, 2009).

In this context, canes, crutches, walkers, strollers, and wheelchairs, manual and electric, or any other vehicle, equipment or strategy can aid mobility. The wheelchairs are an artifact prevalent and widely used for people with motor disabilities usually recommended for users who do not have the strength or coordination to be able to walk. Then, the choice for this type of vehicle takes into consideration the sensory and motor abilities of the user, such as his desire to get around independently (Bersch, 2009).

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