Persons with disabilities from cervical level spinal cord injuries have difficulty with activities of daily living, such as turning switches ON or OFF and driving powered wheelchair. A variety of operation devices have been developed for people with such serious disabilities: voice or breath control, head motion control and eye movement control systems etc. for example. Each has its own merits and disadvantages respectively, but a need still exists to develop other types of device interfaces. Tongue movement control is also an option and is one of solutions applied to several assistive devices for persons with disabilities. In this study, we have tried to develop a mouthpiece-type remote controller for those with serious disabilities. This remote controller has passive Radio Frequency Identification transponders, with no batteries required.
In order to develop the mouthpiece remote controller, we need to know the basic characteristics of the RFID and what type of Radio Frequency Identification should be applied to this mouthpiece remote controller. Therefore, we investigated the basic characteristics of the RFID transponders, including 134.2 kHz and 13.56 MHz type. The Maximum Communication Range was measured under three environmental conditions of the atmosphere, water and meat. Every RFID transponders of 134.2 kHz and 13.56 MHz type has enough MCR under each condition. Then we developed a trial mouthpiece type remote controller using 13.56MHz transponders. This trial remote controller was also evaluated with the same tests. The results indicated that this trial controller has performed satisfactorily and may be applied safely to the mouthpiece-type remote controller for people with serious disabilities.
To make sure that the trial controller was able to control a powered wheelchair, we first tried to operate a remote-controlled model car. TR3-MD001E was used as the RFID identifier system. NI 9263 and cRIO 9014 were used to control the model car. With this system, we succeeded in operating the model car by pushing the switches on the mouthpiece remote controller with the tongue. It was suggested that possibility of this system can be applied to new assistive devices for people with serious disabilities.