STEM II is centered around the Assistive Technology Project, a group assignment focused on using STEM to help those with disabilities.

Centralized Wheelchair Visibility System

Problem Statement

Client M, a wheelchair user in Worcester, must ride in the roadway due to poor infrastructure. The sidewalks in his neighborhood are too bumpy to ride on, and curbs prevent him from crossing streets. Client M relies on being able to travel by wheelchair, but often puts himself at risk to do so. The client currently does not have any forms of visibility to draw attention from cars, making it dangerous for him to travel, particularly at night. Upon further research, we found that this is a fairly common problem for wheelchair users.

Design Approach

Our goal was to create a lighting system that could attach to a wheelchair to provide lighting to draw attention to the user and light the path in front of them. In addition, our design needed to be affordable, waterproof, durable, and easy to use.


Picture of STEM II prototype

Our design consists of two forward facing flashlights that act as headlights during the nighttime and flash during the day to increase visibility. Each light is in a laser cut acrylic box with two doors held with acrylic hinges hinges to access the flashlight for maintenance such as changing the batteries. The acrylic boxes were fastened with hot glue. In addition, we 3D printed stabilizers to hold the flashlights in place. The acrylic boxes are mounted on the underside of the armrest with industrial grade velcro.

We also created a tail light system for the wheelchair. It consists of two red bike lights sitting in a third acrylic box with a lid opening on top. In addition, the lights were wired into an Arduino to work with a remote control. This makes it easier for the wheelchair user to turn the lights on and off from their seated position. The box would be attached to the support beam under the wheelchair's headrest.

To test our criteria, we completed four design studies. More information can be found in the project report below.

Project Report