A Better Life for Superman

Daniel Merget, Florian Merget, Robin Stein

Christopher Reeve, better known as Superman, has been dependent on a wheelchair since he broke the first and second cervical vertebrae in a tragic horse riding accident in May 1995. But he is only one of many who are dependent on the help of others. We hope that our invention will give more independence to people like him. We use an acceleration sensor (ADXL202) and computer software control a wheelchair by head movements. The acceleration sensor is designed for ±2 g and therefore sufficiently sensitive. It is small enough to be easily worn on the head, for example attached to glasses, in the hair or integrated into a hat. After resolving numerous practical problems, we are now able to control a wheelchair using this method.

Our invention also allows a paralysed person operate a computer, if the acceleration sensor is combined with a sip-and-puff control. The mouse can be moved using head movements, while the mouse buttons can be pressed using the sip-and-puff control.

An extensive internet search showed that both of our ideas were new, the wheelchair control and the computer control based on an acceleration sensor. However, we decided not to file a patent as we believe that the suffering of the severely disabled should not be exploited for profit. Our ideas should be available to any company that wishes to develop them into products.

Robin, Florian und Daniel mit ihrem durch Kopfbewegungen gesteuerten Rollstuhl auf dem Landeswettbewerb
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