The CIDE Assistive Technology Clinic wheelchair assessment team (two physical therapists and an occupational therapist) collaborated with LUCI, a local manufacturing company, during their final development of a state-of-the-art accessory for power wheelchairs. LUCI is a hardware/software accessory product which attaches to power wheelchairs to provide security, stability and connectivity through cloud and sensor-fusion technologies. By attaching LUCI to their new or existing power wheelchair, people with a disability who use (or have the potential to use) a power wheelchair gain safe access to a world where collisions are avoided and falling off ramps or curbs is prevented. This partnership was funded under a clinical consulting contract between our clinic program and LUCI. The CIDE team offered critical feedback to the LUCI designers, offering a multitude of much-needed perspectives, helping LUCI tailor the product to its end users. CIDE was then able to directly test the product’s efficacy with interested clients. LUCI, then, could make the necessary changes and improve the accessory, boosting rider safety, independence, and more equitable access to their environments.
To date, the partnership has set up LUCI systems on eight Beta users, and have received feedback from users and CIDE clinicians to guide product development and improvement, the first step in bringing this new technology to market-now available nationwide. Individuals with disabilities now have access to a new sensor technology that improves their safety and independence in power wheelchair mobility. LUCI’s collaboration with CIDE was widely publicized in local and state news articles, including a local TV highlight piece. CIDE also publicized this partnership on their social media accounts resulting in multiple calls and emails from the public to ask about LUCI technologies. Anecdotal data suggests that users are safer and have greater independent mobility. A common mission between LUCI and CIDE with clear plans and goals made the partnership successful. CIDEs reputation in the industry led LUCI to initially seek us out. Additional funding would have allowed us to assess user outcomes of the LUCI trials. The collaboration continues to recruit Beta users and expand LUCI’s product line. Creating visibility within the tech industry of your program’s assistive technology expertise while being open to business partnerships will make you uniquely suited to bring these partnerships to fruition.