Comp Sci Senior uses tech skills to support Intel’s Connected Wheelchair Project

Internship on the world’s stage

Senior uses tech skills to support Intel’s Connected Wheelchair Project

By Bonnie Davis Office of Communications and External Relations
David Hughes works on software for Intel's Connected Wheelchair Project.

David Hughes works on software for Intel’s Connected Wheelchair Project.

While college marks the beginning of “the future” for many students, Wake Forest senior David Hughes (’15) hasn’t wasted any time fast-forwarding right into his.

Hughes, a computer science major, was one of six college interns who spent the past five months working on Intel’s Connected Wheelchair Project, which was unveiled at Intel’s annual development conference held mid-September in San Francisco. The Connected Wheelchair Project received international attention as a result of an endorsement from world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking who introduced the project via a short video. (Hughes can be seen at the 58-second mark and again at the 1:38 mark.)

The interns used the Intel® Galileo development kit and Intel Gateway Solutions to create a “smart” wheelchair. The technology monitors the wheelchair user’s vitals, including heart rate, respiration, body temperature and posture, and also can monitor the chair’s functionality and status. They also built an application that collects information on the user’s surroundings, allowing them to map and rate the accessibility of the locations they visit.“My role within the program was building the software,” he said. “I really enjoyed this experience and got to leverage design skills developed here at Wake Forest. I also got to go out and talk to people, make presentations and use communications skills learned here. It was a good balance.”

The intern team worked with Intel’s Internet of Things (IoT) group. IoT is a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects – like a “smart” wheelchair – will be connected to the Internet and able to identify themselves to other devices, creating one big information system. While the connected wheelchair is only a proof of concept, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in the announcement that the project is an example of how “the Internet of Things can help change lives.”   [ MORE ]