With the increase in aging and various diseases, traffic accidents, artificial intelligence technology, and other factors, the future electric wheelchairs for the elderly and disabled will become more modern and intelligent.
The intelligent electric wheelchairs of the future will cover different people who use them, with a variety of functions such as self-navigation, obstacle avoidance, human-machine dialogue, multiple control modes, and so on, which significantly improve their quality of life and work, enhance their self-confidence and enable them to reintegrate into society.
1, WHEELCHAIR HISTORY
For some people with disabilities, wheelchairs are their feet and wings.
Wheelchairs are a mobility tool for the physically disabled and those with limited mobility and a useful rehabilitation tool.
The earliest record of a wheelchair is in China, where Chinese archaeologists found a wheelchair on an engraving of a sarcophagus from about 1600 B.C.
The earliest form of a wheelchair in Europe is in the medieval period with a one-wheeled cart.
The earliest recognized record of a wheelchair in the world’s history is a carving of a chair with wheels on a sarcophagus from the North and South Dynasties in China in 525 AD, the precursor to the modern wheelchair.
The early record of the wheelchair in Europe is in the 16th century, King Philip II of Spain because of gout and ride a rocking chair with wheels.
In modern times, around the 18th century, there is a wheelchair close to the contemporary shape and design.
It was composed of two large wooden front wheels and the back of a single small wheel, the middle with a chair with armrests.
The war brought progress in the American Civil War appeared rattan light wheelchair, with metal wheels.
After World War I, the United States provided the wounded with wheelchairs weighing about 50 pounds.
Britain developed a hand-cranked three-wheeled wheelchair and soon after added a power-driven device to it.
In 1932, a person with paraplegia named Hobart and his friend Henry invented a modern foldable wheelchair and founded the E&J company.
The wheelchair’s skeleton was made of aircraft metal tubing with a canvas-style seat.
Late in World War II, the U.S. began rationing the 18-inch chrome steel E&J wheelchair to wounded soldiers in large numbers.
At that time, there was no concept that wheelchair size needed to be individualized.
After World War II, Gutman in England began to use the idea of wheelchair exercise as a rehabilitation tool, with good results in his hospital.
Inspired by this, he organized the [British Disabled Veterans’ Games] in 1948, which became an international competition in 1952.
2, WHEELCHAIR CLASSIFICATION
Wheelchair development to now can be described as a full range of varieties.
In usual, includes manual wheelchair and electric wheelchair,
Classified by drive type, like two-wheels drive and four-wheel drive,
Classified by function, like the two-person wheelchair, commode wheelchair, high-back reclining wheelchair, standing wheelchair, transfer wheelchair, sports wheelchair, beach wheelchair, aircraft cabin wheelchair, all-terrain wheelchair and stair climbing wheelchair, etc.
3, WHEELCHAIR DEVELOPMENT
With the development of technology and the improvement of living standards, the traditional medical equipment no longer meets users’ needs, and people need those time-saving, labor-saving, peace of mind, electric products.
Wheelchairs are also developing toward miniaturization, lightweight, intelligence, functionality, personalization, and customization to serve the rehabilitation and travel of people with disabilities and further enhance their quality of life.
With the increase of aging and the increase of various diseases and traffic accidents, electric wheelchairs as the primary means of mobility for the elderly and disabled people have gradually become one of society’s concerns.
What is the future development trend of electric wheelchairs? That is, intelligent electric wheelchairs will become more and more popular.
The industry’s development will experience consumer demand, product prototypes, industry budding stage, rough development stage, fierce competition market saturation stage, industry reshuffle stage, segmentation differentiation, refinement, quality upgrade development stage.
The electric wheelchair industry is no exception.
After decades of development, China’s electric wheelchair industry’s current growth is still in the rough location of action to the refinement stage of transition.
The future development trend of the electric wheelchair industry will be the era of intelligence.
With society’s development and the pursuit and aspiration of the mobility-impaired groups for a better life, walking is the most basic human right.
People with disabilities and older people with mobility problems increasingly need to use modern high technology to improve their quality of life and freedom of life to improve their happiness index.
Therefore, the future electric wheelchairs will become more intelligent and have better human-machine interaction.
In the future, electric wheelchairs will be more and more intelligent and know more about the needs of people with limited mobility.
Research on robotic wheelchairs used to help people with disabilities walk has gradually become a hot spot in developed countries, such as Spain, Italy, Japan, and other countries.
Although the future direction is bound to be intellectual development, there is still a long way to truly bring benefits and convenience to more elderly and disabled groups.
For example, even if the high-tech robot electric wheelchair is developed, its cost must be prohibitive, so many people in the disadvantaged elderly and disabled groups can afford it is the most critical.
But from the perspective of industry development, no matter how many people can afford it, the direction of development is bound to be like this.
The well-known Stephen Hawking’s electric wheelchair can be said to be the most integrated black technology in the world.
Although there is no second disabled person who has such a function as the electric wheelchair, it is a real existence and accompanies Hawking’s life.
The future electric wheelchair will be more advanced than Stephen Hawking’s black technology electric wheelchair.
Let’s wait and see together!
4, EFFECT FACTORS OF WHEELCHAIR DEVELOPMENT
So what are the factors that affect the development of the electric wheelchair industry?
First, social factors.
Social factors play a vital role in the industry’s development, and the electric wheelchair industry is no exception.
Some people have raised the question of why the disabled are rarely seen in China?
Society is relatively short of the disabled, the elderly, and other groups of related supporting facilities, and implementing policies to help the elderly disabled is still lacking.
Travel difficulties lead to most people with mobility problems not going out, and they are challenging to go downstairs.
Therefore, relatively few elderly disabled people on the road to travel.
Second, economic factors.
Many people with disabilities, the elderly vulnerable due to disease, loss of financial resources, and some even long medical expenses are quite large.
Children are often overwhelmed by mortgages, medical care, education but also have no time for their fathers!
High consumer spending has led to a significant decline in the purchasing power of consumption in the elderly supplies, is also an essential factor affecting the development of the electric wheelchair industry.
Third, cultural factors.
The electric wheelchair consumer group’s cultural factors are also an objective factor affecting the industry’s development.
Statistics found that the higher level of culture in the electric wheelchair consumer groups pays more attention to the brand effect.
Fourth, the market environment.
Vicious competition is severe.
To meet the consumer’s pursuit of low-cost psychology, many small manufacturers do whatever it takes to reduce costs, reduce the configuration, use low-quality, low-cost parts and materials.
Cottage imitation prevails.
Ultimately, the whole industry has a trend of lousy money expelling good money, which is hugely detrimental to its development.
5, POTENTIAL PROBLEMS OF WHEELCHAIR DEVELOPMENT
There has been significant progress in the research of intelligent wheelchairs, with constantly enriched functions and improved safety and reliability, but there are specific problems.
(1) Human-machine interaction is not natural enough.
Although intelligent wheelchair human-machine interaction interfaces have been developed, they are still at the stage of simple control of the wheelchair through the human-machine interface.
The distinction between the unconscious and conscious behaviors of the user in natural interaction is still lacking.
The purpose of genuine business cannot be achieved.
(2) The safety and security system of the wheelchair is not perfect.
At present, most intelligent wheelchair platforms attach more importance to functional implementation.
They do not have enough research on the possibility of danger occurring in various environments and the corresponding safeguard measures.
(3) The intelligent wheelchair control system is flawed in real-time, has high power consumption and low range, and is still some distance from being truly practical.
6, DEVELOPMENT TREND OF WHEELCHAIRS
The future development trend of intelligent wheelchairs may have the following aspects.
(1) Naturalization of human-computer interaction.
Through the combination of a variety of human-computer interaction interfaces, full consideration of the needs of people with limited mobility, sound design, and as simple an operation method as possible, the intelligent wheelchair system can more fully communicate and communicate with the user, and more accurately understand the user’s manipulation intentions.
(2) Comprehensive safety and security.
Through a more comprehensive understanding of the surrounding environment, the intelligent wheelchair’s movement can be monitored in real-time.
The dangerous state can be alarmed and prevented to avoid the occurrence of danger as much as possible.
Productization is a critical path for any high technology to serve society, and the use of embedded control systems will be the future development direction of intelligent wheelchairs.
The use of embedded products with low power consumption and substantial computing power will enable the realization of brilliant wheelchair products.
To realize the mass production of intelligent wheelchairs, the functions of smart wheelchairs must be modularized, including navigation systems, human-machine interfaces, motion control, and mechanical arms, etc.
Different combinations of functional modules can be customized for other users, and it is also easy to upgrade and redevelop each available module.
The whole system consists of basic modules. Each module is responsible for the corresponding work, coordination, and unity.
The user can choose different modules as needed to adapt to their own needs.
Integrated intelligent technology application, optimized control algorithm, enhanced automatic planning capability, integrated modern science and technology, computer communication and network technology to adapt to remote communication needs.
The intellectual development of electric wheelchairs for the elderly and the disabled will bring more benefits to users, such as full coverage of the applicable population and a full range of usage scenarios.
The future development trend of electric wheelchairs is bound to be that there will be suitable styles and models as long as there is a need to use electric wheelchairs.
With the continuous development of robotics, it is believed that the functions of intelligent wheelchairs will become perfect and genuinely serve the lives of elderly and disabled people with embedded wheelchairs so that they can regain the ability to take care of themselves and integrate into society.