Boise Man Is Using Robots to Help Disabled People


For the average person, a strange noise in the house can be spooky. For the mobility-impaired and the disabled, it can be downright terrifying as investigating the noise and its potential danger may be impossible.

But a native Boisean is hoping to change that through the use of remotely operated robots that the disabled can use to easily explore and view inaccessible areas. The real kicker? He says he can do it for $600.

"Most disabled people are not rich, so it has to be affordable," says Robert Oschler, the man behind the Robodance 5 software. "This is within the reach of the average American or the average disabled person."

Oschler's software will use Skype to link a computer control headset that monitors facial motions to a wheeled telepresence robot armed with a camera. Together, they will allow a disabled person to patrol his or her house or yard or even to explore tourist sites that are physically inaccessible.

"This will give people the opportunity to explore the world that they are unable to access personally," says Oschler.

Oschler designed the original version of the software to make robots more fun, but once prices dropped on robots and headsets, he realized the potential to help people that his software held. Previously, technology like this could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Though he is currently living in Florida to finish the project, Oschler hopes to return to Boise as soon as he can.

"The goal is to help disabled people," says Oschler.

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