Involving Young Children in the Design of a Safe, Smart Paediatric Wheelchair

Independent mobility is crucial for a growing child and its loss can severely impact cognitive, emotional and social development. Unfortunately, powered wheelchair provision for young children has been difficult due to safety concerns. But powered mobility need not be unsafe. Risks can be reduced through the use of robotic technology (e.g., obstacle avoidance) and we present a prototype safe smart paediatric wheelchair: the Assistive Robot Transport for Youngsters (ARTY). A core aspect of our work is that we aim to bring ARTY to the field and we discuss the challenges faced when trying to involve children in the development/testing of medical technology. We discuss one preliminary experiment designed as a “Hide-and-Seek” game as a short case study.

Note: This paper was submitted to the ACM/IEEE HRI-2011 Pioneers Workshop, Lausanne 2011.

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