Fiona Phillips met young disabled people designing new wheelchairs

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Fiona Philips, broadcaster and People’s Postcode Lottery Ambassador, met young wheelchair users from disabled children and young people’s charity Whizz-Kidz to discuss using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve modern wheelchairs.

The AI workshop in Cumbernauld was part of a two-year £1m project to reimagine the wheelchair run by Whizz-Kidz, Duchenne UK and the University of Edinburgh. Funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery as part of the Dream Fund initiative, the project is researching and developing new technology, design and innovation to integrate with and enhance mobility equipment.

Ms Phillips met young wheelchair users, including Harry Stratton, and heard about their experiences of testing Amazon Eco Dot and Google Home Mini at a workshop on building AI-enabled apps and devices into wheelchairs. The workshop took place on 26 January 2019.

Fiona Phillips, broadcaster and Ambassador for People’s Postcode Lottery, said:

“This is such an exciting Dream Fund project and it was really interesting for me to meet with Harry and other young wheelchair users to hear their thoughts on how technology could change their day-to-day lives. I can’t wait to see how this project will help shape the wheelchairs of the future for young people and it’s all thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who are supporting this venture.”

Harry Stratton, aged 18, said:

“It was great telling Fiona about what it was like testing the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini. I’d love it if my wheelchair had an app in it that I could tell to open doors because so many automatic doors don’t work properly. It would make my life a whole lot easier.”

Frank Robertson, Dream Fund Project Manager at Whizz-Kidz, said:

“We’re delighted Fiona Phillips met the young disabled people to hear first-hand how their experiences of testing AI devices can be transferred to the wheelchairs of the future.

“Thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’re able to explore innovations in mobility equipment that will truly enhance the quality of life for young wheelchair users.”


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