By Ian Ruder: Complete Post through this link…
Ten years ago, I wrote an article for NEW MOBILITY about Google’s supposedly revolutionary Glass headset and what it might offer for wheelchair users. I had a lot of fun testing out the futuristic-looking device, but wasn’t sure what its future looked like. I closed the article with a quote from a Google staffer who promised, “We’re going to learn about things that Glass can help people do that we have no idea about now.”
In case you’ve forgotten or never heard about Glass, it was a lightweight headset attached to a glasses frame, with a built-in visual display that let you make calls, take pictures and videos, and access social media hands-free, using voice, head tilt or other controls. Two years after my article, Google stopped making Glass for the public.
I forgot about my headset — packed away in its felt pouch in the back of my closet — until last year. A representative for a German company had sent a message through the NM website touting “a new technology combining smart glasses to help electric wheelchair drivers control their wheelchair (hands-free) through a minimalist head control device via Bluetooth.” When I saw the pictures on their site, the device looked just like a Glass, and more importantly, it seemed to allow users to control their power chairs by simply tilting their heads.
The company, munevo, had been operating in Europe for three years and was preparing to bring their product, munevo DRIVE, to the U.S. Having heard numerous friends rant about their frustrations with current hands-free control options for power chairs, I was excited to hear about a new way to safely drive for those who can’t use arms or hands.
The headset has been exhibited at Abilities Expos around the U.S., and munevo offered one to NEW MOBILITY so I could try it and get feedback from other testers.