COUNTY NEWS: Disabled student drives wheelchair – with his eyes

A Chailey Heritage student has been test driving an award-winning design which allows him to move his wheelchair just using his eyes.

Jono Stenberg test driving the new Eyedrivomatic
Jono Stenberg test driving the new Eyedrivomatic

Jono Stenberg, 24, has cerebral palsy and is a weekday resident at the centre, spending his weekends at home in Peacehaven.

The Eyedrivomatic means Jono is able to independently move his own wheelchair. Jono’s first test drives were part of the award-winning nomination which won the grand prize in the Hackaday Awards – beating off 1,000 other entrants to win the top accolade.

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Jono, who is one of the first people to use the revolutionary design, said, “The Eyedrivomatic has made me more independent and is so much easier and accurate than my old one switch system I used to use to control my chair.”

The Eyedrivomatic is the invention of Patrick Joyce, who is living with motor neurone disease (MND). Together with Steve Evans, also living with MND, and film maker David Hopkinson, they put forward a substantial application bid for the prestigious Hackaday Awards and were announced the winner at a ceremony on November 14.

Patrick, a former artist, said, “Steve and I both have electric wheelchairs, but while I still have some movement in my fingers and am just able to operate mine, Steve only has his eyes left and until Eyedrivomatic, had to rely on his carer to operate his.”

He added, “My idea was to make something which would interface with the user’s chair-mounted computer and physically move the joystick. The result was Eyedrivomatic - a two-part system featuring a ‘brain box’ and an electronic hand to move the joystick.”

Steve said, “For four years I have been totally dependent on others to move me, I couldn’t even turn to change my view. Now I can move and drive my wheelchair with my eyes. It’s utterly brilliant.”

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