Invention Allows Quadriplegics to Control Wheelchairs with Eyes

January 19, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. paralyze / ˈpær əˌlaɪz / (v.) – to be unable to move certain parts of the body
Example: The accident paralyzed him from the neck down.

2. contraption / kənˈtræp ʃən / (n.) – a machine or gadget, usually not made professionally
Example: The contraption was designed to clear the area after the accident.

3. pragmatic / prægˈmæt ɪk / (adj.) – practical or useful to the community
Example: Their low-cost housing project was pragmatic.

4. astonishment / əˈstɒn ɪʃ mənt / (n.) – great surprise or amazement
Example: I looked with astonishment at the results of the exam.

5. elation / ɪˈleɪ ʃən / (n.) – great joy or pride
Example: There was elation in the audience upon the celebrity’s arrival.


Read the text below.
A device was invented to allow quadriplegics, or those paralyzed from the neck down, to steer, recline, and change the speed of their wheelchairs using only their eyes.

The Eyedrivomatic, as the contraption is called, was created for two years by Patrick Joyce, a man from Somerset who has motor neurone disease (MND) and can move only his fingers. Joyce developed Eyedrivomatic with Steve Evans, another MND-affected man from Surrey who only has movement in his eyes and with David Hopkinson, a film maker. Eyedrivomatic works by connecting available Eyegaze software, which lets people use computers with their eyes, to an electronic hand, which controls the wheelchair.

The Eyedrivomatic is low-cost and easy to customize. Not only can it be used on loaned wheelchairs, it can also work with any Eyegaze and wheelchair combination. Furthermore, it can be assembled at home. It can also be attached to other devices, as demonstrated by Mr. Joyce, who attached his device to a Nerf gun so he can shoot foam darts at his children.

For Eyedrivomatic, Mr. Joyce was awarded the Grand Prize of the 2015 Hackaday Prize, a competition that challenges people to construct pragmatic machines. Given the choice between a solo trip to space and $196,883 as his award, Mr. Joyce chose the money. Although doubtful that the invention would be commercially developed, Mr. Joyce nonetheless felt astonishment and elation upon winning the prize, which he plans to use for modifying their home.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What help does your government offer to paralyzed people?
·         What other ways can your community help paralyzed people and people with other disabilities?

Discussion B

·         Describe possible inventions that could benefit your community.
·         If you won the Hackaday Prize, would you choose the solo trip to space or the money? Why?

January 19, 2016