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IEEE Sarawak Showcases Smart Walker at Trinity Eldercare

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In a significant move, members of the IEEE Sarawak Subsection teamed up with student members from the IEEE Swinburne Sarawak Student Branch for a visit to Trinity Eldercare, situated at Lot 59, Jalan Ellis, 93300 Kuching, Sarawak. The purpose of the visit was multi-fold: to demonstrate the advantages of their Person-Following Ambulatory Assistance Companion Walker and to gather critical feedback for its further development.

The team, comprised of Senior IEEE members from IEEE Sarawak and Student Members from the student branch, offered a hands-on demonstration of the smart walker’s features. Staff from Trinity Eldercare had the opportunity to experience the device’s functionalities in Manual Mode. However, the walker’s innovative “return-to-user” functionality stood out. By using camera-based person-tracking algorithms, this feature allows the walker to return to its user autonomously, thus significantly enhancing user independence and mobility.

Further enriching the visit was the invaluable feedback from Trinity Eldercare representatives. Their insights are not just another opinion but serve as foundational pillars to improve the smart walker’s alignment with the needs of the elderly and people in rehab centers. This feedback loop is critical to the iterative design process that the IEEE team follows.

This project is part of a larger initiative, Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), designed to foster collaboration between students and seasoned engineering professionals. The collaborative approach of the IEEE Sarawak Subsection and the IEEE Swinburne Sarawak Student Branch has already earned them considerable recognition, including the Gold Award at the Innovation & Technology Exposition 2023 (InTEX23), organized by UNIMAS, earlier in August 2023. Their dedicated focus on community-driven solutions has set them on a path to widespread recognition.

In light of the gathered insights and ongoing innovation, the IEEE team behind the project is committed to continued refinement of the smart walker prototype. Their next steps include enhancing safety features, implementing guided pathfinding via camera technology, and incorporating remote management capabilities using IoT. Their aspiration is not merely to be a technological marvel but an efficient community asset, extending ambulatory assistance to those most in need at a low cost.

By combining sophisticated engineering with community input, this collaboration between IEEE Sarawak and the IEEE Swinburne Sarawak Student Branch is set to redefine what we can expect from assistive technologies, making a tangible impact on users’ lives.

Special thanks to IEEE’s Ts. Professor Lau Bee Theng, Dr. Mark Tee Kit Tsun, Isaac Asante, Paul Cornelius Bong, Chin Zhan Hung, and Kazumasa Chong for carrying out the smart walker prototype demonstration at Trinity Eldercare on October 26, 2023.

Ong Chin Ann
Executive Committee Member (Communication & Promotion), IEEE Sarawak Subsection 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2023-2024 IEEE Senior Member