Leading housing and care provider, Blackwood, recently held its Student Design Competition which discovers, and champions, new and innovative ideas that aim to improve standards of living for those with physical or mental disabilities.
Designs from across the globe were presented in person and over the internet to a panel of judges, with Kirubin Pillay taking home the coveted top prize.
The Oxford University Biomedical Engineering student will now receive invaluable backing from Blackwood and its’ partners in a bid to make his creative design into a working reality that could offer a life changing transport facility for many people with severe physical disabilities.
The remarkable design is based on a typical electric wheelchair. An electric module has been added to the frame which communicates with the current wheelchair electronics and this, in turn, is also connected to a commercial eye-tracker and laptop that is mounted on the back of the chair.
The laptop uses a ‘smart’ algorithm, and receives eye gaze positions from the eye tracker, which is then communicated as a position to the wheelchair. The eye-tracker is then mounted on the wheelchair in the front, just below the user’s eyes – allowing the user to intuitively direct its movements.
Kirubin is overwhelmed to have won the competition and believes the technology has the capacity to change lives around the world.
He said: “I still can’t believe I have won, I’m so grateful to Blackwood and the panel for choosing my design.
“I wanted to get involved as I knew my device had great potential to be extremely useful for people who really need it.
“The student design award provided an opportunity to receive constructive feedback on the device’s commercial merits as well as provide an opportunity to present the system.
“The advice and guidance I will now receive will mean there is a far greater chance of this becoming a reality and making it a successful product.”
Kirubin will now receive backing from Blackwood and its partners, with MacRoberts LLP providing legal advice on issues such as patenting and trademarks, while British Telecom is providing an iPad and professional service support.