September 2nd, 2021—
Over time, people age and naturally tend to lose some or most of their mobility, leading to a need for a wheelchair, walker, or other assistive device. This led hitesh.boghani to submit his project, which he calls the smartChair, to element14’s Design for a Cause 2021 contest. This build features a sort of pseudo-walker that enables a user to transition from a sitting to a standing position with some motorized assistance. Apart from that primary use, Hitesh also wanted to create a “summon” mode that would allow the walker to move on its own to where it’s needed.
As with every other project submitted to the contest, this too makes use of the Arduino Nano 33 IoT to handle both motor control and communication with a client device. In order to lift the walker from a compacted state to an expanded one, Hitesh began by assembling a wooden frame and then placed a brushless DC motor in line with some gearing to increase torque and reduce the speed. Next, an L293D motor driver IC was connected to a breadboard and a Nano 33 IoT for receiving input signals. And finally, a bit of code was written that spins the motor for a certain number of turns depending on the speed and direction requested.
Unfortunately, time ran out to complete the summon feature, so Hitesh plans on improving this project continually to add a camera, a motorized base, and a basic smartphone app for controlling the whole thing. But even in its current state, the smartChair is a great assistive tool for anyone who needs extra help getting up from a sitting position.