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Frequently Asked Questions

Shawn Sexton, who invented LifeDrive with his son, John, has been developing and using EyeDrive, CareDrive, and VoiceDrive since 2017. He took time to answer some questions.

  • Why did you explore new ways to drive your wheelchair?
    Most drive controls become unusable as muscle atrophy progresses with ALS. When I started using a wheelchair, I used the wheelchair's joystick which I controlled with my hand. When I lost hand control I tried an alternative that responded to head movement but I was already losing control of my neck muscles. Alternatives that used my breath to control a chair were not an option due to quick respiratory decline with ALS. So I looked at what I could control. Typically eyes remain functional very late in the disease. I was already using an eyegaze system and I thought there had to be a way to make eyegaze connect with my wheelchair for control. As it turns out, EyeDrive provides the user control after other alternatives fail or become very unsafe.
  • How often in your day-to-day life do you use LifeDrive?
    I use EyeDrive every time I use my power wheelchair. I don't use my power chair every day, but very often. Some people do get into their power chairs daily. Whenever I am using EyeDrive, a caregiver is using CareDrive or VoiceDrive for added safety.
  • What can you control on your chair with EyeDrive?
    In addition to driving my chair, I use EyeDrive to turn my power chair on and off, to adjust my seating position, and to change settings like speed, driving profile, and lights. In addition, I can easily and quickly switch between the EyeDrive app and my communication app.
  • What issues, if any, have you experienced while using the LifeDrive technology?"
    LifeDrive apps have been tested and refined over several years and work very reliably. We have experienced problems while driving outside, but not because of the EyeDrive technology. Older versions of the Tobii Dynavox eye trackers do not work in sunlight. The eye trackers available in the I-13, I-16, and PCEye, work better outside but can be inconsistent depending on lighting conditions. When we have experienced intermittent problems with eye tracking, we have a caregiver use the CareDrive or VoiceDrive app to control the chair using a moblie phone running our moblie joystick app or voice control.
  • How safe is the LifeDrive technology?
    The LifeDrive app has safeguards built in — for example, while you are driving the chair, if the eye tracker does not detect your eyes, then driving will stop. In addition, a caregiver can stop the chair or turn the power off, as well as drive or adjust your chair using the mobile apps. As far as our recommnedations for safety, we highly recommend using EyeDrive at low speed, especially when you are getting used to driving your wheelchair with your eyes.
  • Do you need a caregiver with you while driving the chair with your eyes?
    LifeDrive should not be used outside without a caregiver around because eye tracking can be inconsistent outside. Inside, I frequently use EyeDrive without a caregiver immediately present, however I am careful not to recline my seat out of eye tracking range. I use the memory function of my power chair so that I can always restore my ideal position. Of course for someone like me, who is totally paralyzed and on a ventilator, a caregiver is usually nearby. During the pandemic I went for trach change procedures without a caregiver beside me due to hospital policy. I always remain in my chair for the procedure. I was able to use EyeDrive to drive to the procedure and recovery rooms and position my chair for the procedure.
  • What makes LifeDrive different than other products?
    With all three LifeDrive apps, in addition to independently driving the power chair, you can turn the power chair on and off, adjust the seating position, and change settings. The user has the freedom to adjust seating position which allows them to choose level of comfort and to try to avoid pressure injuries. EyeDrive allows you to quickly and easily switch between EyeDrive and your eyegaze communication apps. If the eye tracker is unavailable or it is inconvenient for the patient to drive, the caregiver can use phone apps to fully control the chair. LifeDrive has an extra switch jack to control addition systems.
  • What is required to use the LifeDrive technology?
    LifeDrive requires a complex rehab power wheelchair with specific features, the LifeDrive device, and the alternative driving option of choice to control the power chair. A chair can be driven with three options: EyeDrive: The user can control the chair with their eyes using an eyegaze system. This requires a Windows 10 PC with a Tobii Dynavox IS4 or IS5 eye tracker. For example the Tobii Dynavox I13, I16, or new PCEye. CareDrive: A caregiver can control the chair using a moblie joystick app. This requires an iPhone or Android with Bluetooth LE enabled. This option can be used simultaneously with EyeDrive. VoiceDrive: The user and/or caregiver can control the chair with their voice. This requires an iPhone with Voice Control and Bluetooth LE enabled. This option can be used simultaneously with EyeDrive.
  • What are the main benefits that you have experienced while using the technology?
    Being able to adjust seating postion enables me to choose my own level of comfort and try to avoid pressure injuries. Being able to switch quickly between EyeDrive and communication apps enables me to communicate easily. With simultaneous use of CareDrive or VoiceDrive, my caregiver can stop the chair if I have an unexpected problem or have trouble controlling the chair. If the eye tracker is unavailable or it is inconvenient for me to drive, my caregiver can use phone apps to fully control the chair and can keep the app running on the phone even when EyeDrive is engaged. With an extra switch jack I can easy incorporate new innovations and new systems that might become availalble or necessary in the future.
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