Friday, June 24th, 2011
A thought-controlled wheelchair system from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), has been awarded third place in the Anthill SMART 100 Index.

The Aviator technology, marketed by UTS research commercialisation partner, UniQuest Pty Ltd, uses thought patterns to control devices, such as wheelchairs.

Online business channel and leading Australian website Anthill has recognised the potential of the Aviator technology, determined by a panel of 100 expert judges looking for novel, innovative ideas that could be commercially successful by meeting the needs of a specific target market.

Professor Hung Nguyen, Dean of the UTS Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, led a project team to develop a system that directs and controls wheelchair navigation by reading the users’ head movements and brainwaves.

Aviator is working on two prototype wheelchairs, TIM (Thought-controlled Intelligent Machine) and SAM (Semi-Autonomous Machine).

“TIM takes more risks. SAM is a bit more considerate,” explained Professor Nguyen.

Professor Nguyen said he was interested in research outcomes that can assist people with illnesses and disabilities to achieve greater independence.

“This research is significant because we now have the opportunity to apply the same technological approach to other disability aids. In future, we may be able to use it help people with a range of tasks in their everyday lives, and adapt it so that it can be applied to different types of disabilities,” said Professor Nguyen.

The project’s initial focus has been on developing hands-free control systems for assistive technologies, such as powered wheelchairs and communication tools for people with disabilities. Last year, Aviator secured a $500,000 Commercialisation Australia ‘Skills and Knowledge’ grant and $12,000 from the UTS Invention Commercialisation Seed Fund, to develop the technology further and explore new markets.

UTS-based UniQuest Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development, Leigh Angus, said the project is currently seeking further investment for research and development.

“Aviator presents an excellent opportunity for investors who are both financially and socially motivated. We’re seeking a special investor who really wants to see a venture make sound business decisions but also wishes to give back to society in significant ways,” Ms Angus said.

“Aviator’s speed and accuracy set it apart from similar technologies. Thought patterns can be processed without extended delays between the generation of the user’s thought and the instruction being implemented by the device that is being controlled. And, the thought pattern can be processed by just one EEG channel.

“It’s about improving the quality of life for individuals living with severe disabilities by putting these people back into the pilot seat.”

For more about this technology, visit:


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UniQuest Pty Limited

Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $400 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year.

UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.

Leanne Wyvill
P: +61 7 3365 4037
M: +61 0 409767199

UTS Centre for Health Technologies

The interdisciplinary research skill-base brought together in the Centre for Health Technologies (CHT) is unique in Australia in the development of medical devices and systems. The CHT has two research streams: biomedical devices and biotechnology science. Its focus is on health and disease processes, the development of new devices, and advanced methods for the early detection, diagnosis and rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological disorders and cancer. Its research has already produced several new device technologies which are at the cutting edge of biomedical engineering and science.
Leigh Angus
M: +61 488 411 206


UniQuest, wheelchair, mobility, thought-control, UTS, aviator, EEG, disabilities, quadraplegic, hands-free, ethical investment, social entrepreneur



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