Some of the projects we spotlight here on the SparkFun homepage are really cool, inventive, and fun, but are maybe not the most utilitarian projects out there (what can we say...we're suckers for blinky). This project, however, is a truly amazing idea that could potentially help thousands of people live better lives.
There are certain things that I'll admit I take for granted - things like reaching into my pocket to answer my cellphone or changing the song on my iPod. But if you are an individual with motor impairments, doing these tasks can be impossible. Fortunately, there are people like the folks over at Tekla who are working to design alternative ways for people to control their mobile devices using the same interfaces they use to control their wheelchairs.
Basically, it works like this. Many powered-wheelchairs are controlled with a thing called an ACU (applicance control unit). Tekla designed something called the Tekla Shield, a Bluetooth interface which connects the ACU unit to a user's mobile device. They can then control said mobile devices (cellphone, MP3 player, etc.) with a sip and puff switch, joystick, or other control. This is an amazing project with a worthwhile goal - SparkFun is truly humbled that our customers are using our products in such worthwhile projects. Outstanding work!