According to professor Elegast Monbaliu of KU Leuven Campus in Bruges, a new type of electric wheelchair is intended for people who cannot use a joystick. Special software enables the chair to be used by people with complex movement disorders. For instance, wheelchair users who have cerebral palsy should be taken into consideration, according to Monbaliu.
“Due to their condition, they make a lot of involuntary movements which prevents them from operating a traditional wheelchair. They are therefore dependent on the help of others for their mobility. Our wheelchair control system changes all that and helps to create a maximum level of independent mobility for these people.”
One of the ways it differs from a traditional wheelchair is that the controls are not operated by hand, but by the head and/or feet. The software developed with AI (called CoMoveIT Smart) sees to it that involuntary movements of the user are recognized and compensated.
First start-up from Campus Bruges
Monbaliu is co-founder of CoMoveIT which is based in the Belgian city of Bruges. “It is the first spin-off from KU Leuven Campus Bruges,” says Vice Rector Piet Desmet, who is also the academic administrator of Campus Bruges. ” Through its combination of health and technology, this spin-off reflects the identity of our campus.
The university campus in Bruges wants to put itself on the map as a so-called Health and Tech Campus over the coming years. “That is an ambition that we aim to bolster even more in the next few years by expanding the campus further. For example, we recently purchased land that is currently still being used by a a car wash. We are planning to further expand our campus concept on this land.”
The university campus in Bruges is one of many campuses belonging to KU Leuven. Bruges is still a relatively young campus. The name originated in 2013 and the new building near the train station was put into service in 2017.
In addition to Leuven and Bruges, there are also campuses in Brussels, Antwerp, Kortrijk, Aalst, Sint-Katelijne-Waver and in Ghent (2x). Each campus has its own specialty and there is mutual cooperation.
Bruges houses two faculties: Industrial Engineering and Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences. CoMoveIT originated from the latter. The company will work with specialist consultants for the sale of the electric wheelchair. There are npc plans to set up an in-house marketing organization.
Read the press release here.