Smartphone Instrumentation of Wheelchairs for Activity Monitoring

UAH-P-13002-Smartphone Instrumentation of Wheelchairs for Activity Monitoring

Docket: UAH-P-13002


According to a 2010 US Bureau survey, there are 56.7 million Americans who use some type of wheelchair. These individuals are at high risk for all physical inactivity-related diseases such as coronary disease and diabetes. Increased physical activity can lower the risk of these diseases. However, we currently do not have reliable and affordable tools for assessing the physical activity levels of people who use wheelchairs for mobility. Existing systems are either designed for the able-bodied population (e.g. pedometers) or require expensive instrumentation.

Researchers at UAH have developed an affordable, unobtrusive, and easy-to-use system to support assessment of physical activity of manual wheelchair users. A smartphone, placed strategically in a holder on the wheelchair, can capture, process, log, and communicate the user's activity type and level, along with other health-related information.

The wheelchair speed and distance travelled is continuously monitored by processing data from the smartphone's magnetic sensor. By processing information from the smartphone's proximity sensor, the system is able to detect if the wheelchair has been pushed by someone or propelled by the user. The smartphone's accelerometer is utilized to determine inclination of the wheelchair as well as whether the smartphone is placed in the wheelchair holder. When paired with a heart monitor, the system also provides continuous monitoring and recording of the user's heart activity during exercise sessions or day-to-day activities.



  • Monitoring mobility
  • Monitoring cardiac activity during exercise
  • Monitoring exercise sessions at rehabilitation hospitals


  • Cost efficient
  • Easy to operate
  • Reliable


  • State of Development: Proof of concept
  • Licensing Status: Available for licensing
  • Patent Status: Patent Pending