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Health Tech: Smartwatch Controls Wheelchairs

A powered wheelchair can help you get around, but how do you control it? A smartwatch might let you do that with a wave of your hand.

Powered wheelchairs provide mobility for people with injuries or physical impairments. But some patients may be challenged by controlling their rides. Or they may want something less obtrusive than a joystick or other controls. A partnership between the wheelchair company Permobil and a smartwatch maker provides a new solution. The TicWatch E3 from Mobvoi is a smartwatch designed primarily for fitness enthusiasts; it tracks exercise and health data. But the smarts in the watch make it possible to do much more. The TicWatch can use a Bluetooth wireless connection to access the SmartDrive feature in some Permobil wheelchair models. This connection allows the user to control the chair simply by using hand gestures. The app also lets the user track distance, time, and battery usage, among other metrics. This is a great example of how we can make more use of the processing power contained in many of the devices that we take for granted, from smartphones to digital voice assistants.

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Written by Alfred Poor

Alfred Poor is an "Into Tomorrow" Contributing Correspondent, health tech speaker, writer and the founding Editor of Health Tech Insider: a website and industry newsletter that covers wearable and mobile technology for health and medical applications. With more than 2,400 articles published on the site, he has a broad perspective of where the global industry stands today and where it’s headed... Into Tomorrow.

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