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Cypress' Maker of the Month: Rochester Institute of Technology's motor Assisted Wheelchair Team | Cypress Semiconductor

Cypress' Maker of the Month: Rochester Institute of Technology's motor Assisted Wheelchair Team

At Cypress®, we are all about solving our customers’ problems with our state-of-the-art solutions. We love problems because we are passionate about solutions. The Maker of the Month series recognizes unique projects created by the maker community and their design problems that were solved using Cypress technology. For more information about Cypress’ maker community involvement, check out the rest of our Maker of the Month series and our efforts to empower up-and-coming engineers via the Cypress University Alliance (CUA).

Read the Q&A with Cypress’ July Makers of the Month, Jonathon Price, Andrew King, Kevin Layer and Eric Hambleton. These four Rochester Institute of Technology students designed a motor-assisted wheelchair with Cypress’ Pioneer Bluetooth Development Kit.


(From left to right: Kevin Layer, Jonathon Price, Eric Hambleton and Andrew King)

Can you please provide some background about yourselves and your work at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)?

Jonathon Price: I studied mechanical engineering with a business management minor. My extracurricular activities included playing on the men’s varsity soccer team for five years and serving as the vice president for RIT’s Tigers for Tigers, a charity organization preventing tigers from going extinct, and the men’s soccer team representative for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. 

Andrew King: I studied industrial engineering and participated in additive manufacturing research.

Kevin Layer: I studied mechanical engineering and was a member of the men’s varsity tennis team for three years.

Eric Hambleton: I studied electrical engineering and was commissioned as an officer into the U.S. Air Force through ROTC, while participating as a captain of the RIT track and field team for five years.

Tell us about your motor-assisted wheelchair and what Cypress technology is being used in the project.




A motor-assisted wheelchair provides a user the benefits of an electric wheelchair, such as the ability to traverse inclined pathways or move at economically quick paces without losing his or her breath, while retaining the wheelchair's ability to move through doors or other corridors.

The goal of this project is to analyze and modify the current prototype by identifying opportunities to make the additional device lighter, more compact, easier to operate, and more energy and cost efficient. The expected result is a functioning prototype capable of meeting all customer requirements which can then be marketed to companies and have a competitive advantage in the market.

A manual wheelchair can leave someone out of breath if they're trying to move at pedestrian paces. Additionally, inclines may introduce a hazard if the user is incapable of physically pushing their chair up a hill on their own and begin to roll backwards out of control.

A motor-assisted wheelchair would assist the user with both of these everyday tasks. Furthermore, the transition for someone between a manual wheelchair and an electric wheelchair can be both expensive and lead to unpleasant side effects. As a transitional device, it would delay the effects of upper-body muscle atrophy as well as provide a cost-effective alternative.

The Cypress technologies we utilized come from the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Pioneer kit. We interfaced a slide potentiometer to an Analog to Digital Converter (ADC). Input from the kits included Cypress’ PRoC ™ microcontroller, which we used to control the speed of the motor. We took that signal and sent it to the kit’s PSoC® 4 microcontroller via a Bluetooth Low Energy connection. The PSoC controller then output a Pulse Width Modulator (PWM) control signal to vary the speed of the motor.

How did you get the idea for the motor-assisted wheelchair?

The idea for the motor-assisted wheelchair was first given to us from the previous multi-disciplinary team working on the project. Using components from their original proof of concept prototype, we started anew and began brainstorming ideas for possible solutions that were smaller, lighter and had better performance.




How did Cypress’ technology help execute your projects, and what are the benefits you’ve seen with using these technologies?

The technology was easy-to-use without a lot of coding experience. Eric was the only one who came onto the project having ever worked with microcontrollers before, so we were initially overwhelmed with the technology to choose for a wireless point-to-point implementation. Our project’s guide handed us the Bluetooth Low Energy Pioneer Development Kit, and after experimenting with some examples from the 100 Projects in 100 Days blog published by Cypress, we became much more confident that we’d accomplish the project with the PRoC and PSoC 4 controllers. The design environment in PSoC Creator™ was easy to learn compared to other microcontroller environments we toyed around with. The API generation definitely minimized the learning-curve necessary for completing our project in a relatively short period of time.

What are your plans for when you graduate?

Jonathon Price: After graduation, I plan to backpack around Europe for a month prior to starting at Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems facility in Syracuse, New York as a systems engineer. 

Andrew King: I am hoping to continue my career in the additive manufacturing industry.

Kevin Layer: I am working in the refrigeration and HVAC field for CannonDesign in Grand Island, New York.

Eric Hambleton: I am back in New Hampshire working at a solar power installation company as a design engineer until I get called to active duty.

Any other comments you want to add?

We really appreciate Cypress selecting our project as Cypress’ Maker of the Month. It is an honor for our team and project to be featured and to bring the Rochester Institute of Technology recognition.

For questions or more information, you can reach out to the students via email.

Thanks again to the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Motor-Assisted Wheelchair Team for participating in our Maker of the Month program. If you would like to be considered for our next Maker of the Month profile, please email us and share a brief description of what project(s) you have made using Cypress’ technology.


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