Self-tracking on a wheelchair…

So this was a cool thing that appeared in my inbox…

Sensimat Systems is running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for their mobile pressure monitoring system for Wheelchairs.

The idea is that for able-body individuals, shifting position while seated happens automatically, just like breathing. For wheelchair users who may sit in the same spot for hours at a time and lack sensation – shifting position is no longer automatic process and can lead to serious complications (bed sores being a good example).

The ‘SENSIMAT’ is comprised of a thin mat of sensors inserted underneath the cushion of a wheelchair that turns the cushion into a “smart” cushion. The user can now check how often they are relieving pressure from their seat and set alerts to warn them if they miss pressure reliefs.  The most interesting bit from my point of view is that all of this data can be passed to a healthcare professional via the SENSIMAT web portal.

I’m a little uneasy about the ‘via the web portal part’ – it seems to me like the thing could just spit out a cvs file into what ever machine you plugged it into – but I suspect there is a certain amount of simplification going on for non-tech savvy users.

On the other hand you do get a beautiful granulation of data out of the other end:  Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 20.47.35


…and I can see his having a range of useful applications in the field, not just the intended ones.


Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 20.47.47


The team at Sensimat Systems seem pretty aware of potential privacy issues, in the context of the bar chart above they say “If the user decides to share this information with their therapist, the therapist will have the ability to focus on specific days and seek clarification on what the user was up to on those particular days. For example, why was the user in the wheelchair for only 2.6 hours on March 5th? Were they bedridden? Or was there something else going on?”, and it’s great that they are – but we want to be careful about explicit permissions turning into implicit ones between factory and deployment.

But first, they have to reach their funding goal.  If you’d like to back the project on Indiegogo then there are options to simply donate, or purchase a units for general use or research purposes.

I’d like to see the project succeed for a variety of reasons. I’m pretty happy to write about such things generally: I’m aware my readers are generally much more technically inclined than are generally found reading popular disability blogs, and are much more likely to a) back things on things like Kickstarter and Indiegogo b) make use of automatic data-logging and c) start taking such a device apart to see what it can do… 🙂


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