US telco and network supplier AT&T has teamed up with Sweden-based manufacturer of electric wheelchairs Permobil to demonstrate the world’s first wireless connected wheelchair.

The proof of concept, which AT&T is

showing at CTIA Super Mobility 2015 in Las Vegas, uses AT&Ts internet of things (IoT) technology to monitor the chair for comfort, performance, maintenance requirements and location.

AT&T claimed the solution would “empower people with disabilities and improve quality of life” by feeding back important data to users, clinicians and caregivers alike.

“The connected wheelchair is a great example of how the AT&T Foundry can quickly collaborate with a customer on a proof of concept to bring connectivity and intelligence to a new range of devices,” said Mike Troiano, vice-president of AT&T industrial IoT systems.

“We’re using innovative technology to solve real-world problems and, in this case, potentially improve quality of life,” he said.

The demo model uses IoT technology that includes a global SIM, AT&T Control Centre and developer systems, such as M2X and AT&T Flow Designer.

It currently offers GPS location data for wheelchair fleet management, as well as battery level and predictive maintenance, allowing manufacturers and dealers to schedule servicing appointments and giving caregivers peace of mind when looking after more vulnerable users.

For wheelchair users themselves, it collates data on seating position and cushion pressure, allowing people to know if they are using their wheelchairs correctly – sitting awkwardly or on inadequate cushioning can lead to dangerous pressure ulcers, particularly important to users who may lack sensation below the waist.

This element complements Permobil’s existing virtual seating coach app and cloud service, which provides seating system information and tracks if users are following recommended regimens.

“Our guiding star when developing any product comes directly from company founder Per Udden, who has stated that every person with a disability has the right to have his or her handicap compensated as far as possible by aids with the same technical standard as those we all use in our everyday lives,” said Olof Hedin, CIO at Permobil.

“Permobil’s collaboration with the AT&T Foundry is the epitome of how to bring today’s technology into the complex rehabilitation arena to benefit users, clinicians and stakeholders.”

Read more about the IoT and healthcare