Max-Mobility, a manual wheelchair innovation company based in Nashville, was looking to develop a device capable of determining a user’s balance angle in their wheelchair. When armed with that information, a wheelchair clinician can make the proper seat adjustments in both the vertical and horizontal directions with minimal iterations thereby saving time.

Rather than create a mechanical measurement system, my design team opted to develop a smart inclinometer that relied on the fundamentals of a wheelie. A wheelie is simply when a user oscillates across their own balance angle, so we knew that if we could capture that information, we could then run a basic algorithm to determine the balance angle.

To test this theory, we created our own inertial measurement unit (IMU) using an Arduino. Data taken from a gyroscope and accelerometer were transmitted to the microcontroller using SPI communication and then coupled to provide real-time angle measurements. This data was then run through an averaging algorithm on the arduino to determine the user’s balance angle on the LED screen.