With the internet of things spreading to virtually every object we can think of, in the health sector it offers even greater potential. This was exemplified by AT&T's creation of the world's first wireless connected wheelchair, developed in conjunction with Permobil, a Swedish electric wheelchair manufacturer.
The wheelchair exists as a successful hybrid of AT&T's IoT technology and sophisticated wheelchair design. While in most respects it will operate as an ordinary wheelchair, throughout its life it will deliver invaluable data to carers to help make their patients' experiences and quality of life far better in the long run.
As a user operates the wheelchair, it will deliver real time data on comfort levels, performance efficiency, maintenance requirements and location. This type of data will allow the organisation to make changes to suit the needs of the customer, creating a highly personalised experience.
AT&T's aim was to use real-world technology to solve the problems of the world. In this case, it will also allow them to improve the quality of life of its customers. By being able to detect when the chair requires maintenance or when it is low on battery, users and carers will be able to react far more quickly, particularly important in the case of more vulnerable users.
The chair will gather data for its users on seating position and cushion pressure, ensuring that users are seated correctly. This is crucial for users who may lack sensation below the waist.
The more information available to both patients and carers, the better, allowing for better treatment options, data for research, as well as better quality of life overall for the users involved. According to Olof Hedin, CIO at Permobil, those with disabilities have the right to have their handicaps compensated for as far as possible, and this will certainly mark a significant step in that direction.