Friday, March 11, 2011

Wii The People

Last year, a group of CU Engineering students worked on projects to design simple adaptive technologies that aided increased independence for some of the folks Imagine! serves, including some residents of our SmartHomes.

Read more and see a video about last year’s projects here.

Well, this semester they are doing it again! The students have picked their projects, and one project is a very interesting task that should benefit the residents of our SmartHomes.

One group of students is working to adapt a Wii Fit balance board for people who have no or little lower body function. The students are envisioning a modified platform or chair that a person who is using a wheelchair can sit in and control the Wii Fit balance board. Control can be from a joystick or leaning action.

How could this be impactful? Two ways:

1) Like many of us, some individuals with developmental disabilities struggle to fit time for physical activities into their busy daily lives. Providing a fun and interactive way to exercise will certainly benefit the health and well-being of the SmartHome residents.

2) Wii games can be played over the internet, allowing residents to engage with others in the community in a manner in which their disability is invisible. For example, residents of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder frequently engage in online Wii bowling matches with students at the University of Colorado. The CU students playing are unaware of the physical or developmental limitations some of the SmartHome players have, they just know they are playing with worthy opponents.

Increasing the ability of those who use wheelchairs for mobility to engage in these Wii games has the potential to be extremely beneficial.

Thanks again to Melinda Piket-May, associate professor of engineering at CU, and her students for undertaking this very worthy project.

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