KU Leuven spin-off launches smart wheelchair

Elegast Monbaliu: ’As our system constantly adapts itself, people with com

Elegast Monbaliu: ’As our system constantly adapts itself, people with complex movement disorders can use an electric-powered wheelchair too.’ | © Stars of Science

CoMoveIT, the first spin-off from Bruges Campus, launches a smart wheelchair steering system that uses sensors and artificial intelligence.

Electric-powered wheelchairs are usually controlled with a joystick, but for some users, this is physically not possible. For them, KU Leuven spin-off CoMoveIT launches a smart wheelchair steering system that uses sensors and artificial intelligence. CoMoveIT is the first spin-off from KU Leuven Bruges Campus. 

The new steering system, which was named CoMoveIT Smart, is good news for people with complex movement disorders, explains Professor Elegast Monbaliu of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. He is one of the founders of the spin-off. "Think of wheelchair users with cerebral palsy (CP). Due to their severe condition, with often a lot of involuntary movements, it is  impossible for them to operate a traditional electric wheelchair. This way, they are dependent on the help of others for their mobility. Our wheelchair steering system changes that and creates maximum independent mobility."

The CoMoveIT Smart system is a head/foot steering system with sensors that uses artificial intelligence to recognise and compensate for the user’s involuntary movements. Monbaliu: "As our system constantly adapts to the driver’s control, , people with complex movement disorders can use an electric-powered wheelchair too." Many of them have good intellectual capabilities, but their severe motor problems limit their options. Our wheelchair steering system can help break that motor lock-in. We can thus give this group of wheelchair users more autonomy and participation and a better quality of life."

For its sales, CoMoveIT will collaborate with specialised wheelchair advisers such as VIGO. The spin-off itself will not sell the product directly to end users.

"With the launch of CoMoveIT, the first spin-off from KU Leuven Bruges Campus is born", says Vice Rector Piet Desmet, who is also Academic Director of Bruges Campus. "With the combination of health and technology in its product, this spin-off reflects the identity of our campus. This way, the campus in Bruges is put on the map even more as a real Health and Tech Campus. We will further reinforce this ambition in the following years by expanding the campus. For example, we recently bought a plot of land that is currently occupied by a car wash. On this plot of land, we will further develop our campus concept."

It is no coincidence that the city of Bruges is the operating base for this spin-off. The healthcare sector is, in addition to tourism, one of the most important employment sectors in the city. "This spin-off fits in perfectly with our image as a city that does not only focus on tourism, but also on the healthcare sector and the broad domain of technology", argues Mayor Dirk De fauw. "With its operating base in our recently launched incubator Brugge.inc, CoMoveIT will also be a showcase for the entrepreneurial ambitions of our city," adds Alderman Pablo Annys.

More information about CoMoveIT Smart is available on this website. Frederik Vervenne is the CEO of CoMoveIT.
Images for journalists are available on request. For interviews and recordings, please contact Professor Elegast Monbaliu.


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