A research project at Ithaca College is helping disabled kids become mobile thanks to the Wii Balance Board.
The Wii Balance Board has been used as a piece of medical equipment before, but now it's helping kids. Students at Ithaca College have developed a miniature mobility system specifically designed to help disabled toddlers get around that uses the Wii peripheral to steer, with no license required.
The robotic mobility device's purpose is to reduce the "emotional and physiological limitations" that may arise for a disabled infant whose mobility is restricted. Though a disabled infant might not be able to move normally, the Wii Balance Board mini-car can help them to learn to move by leaning.
It works by positioning a seat and the Balance Board above a robot equipped with sonar to aid in the detection of obstacles so that a toddler doesn't crash. The project is aimed at kids under the age of two, so it has a safety override that allows the system to be remote controlled.
In tests, infants were able to move around when they were offered a reward such as a toy, but they were also observed moving the device on their own. Further research is required to determine if the kids realize that leaning drives them around on the robot, but its creators remain positive based on their current results.