With the rapid increase in biomedical technology, the mortality rate of elderly people in economically developed areas has decreased. However, according to a recent public health survey, problems associated with the aging community in Taiwan have become particularly severe. In this paper, authors Cheng et al. (2010) present an economically viable light electric vehicle design for the homecare of elderly. User needs, application feedbacks, and human factors are taken into account and incorporated into their web-based interactive platform. The goal for this project is to develop a light electric vehicle that can be used for easing the mobility of the elderly both indoors and outdoors. Within their one-year integration project, supported by the National Science Council of TAIWAN, the authors propose and analyze various innovative platforms. These platforms include: “industrial design, biomedical engineering [for healthcare monitoring and vehicle safety checking], mechanical design, power electronics [for green energy development of solar cells], communication technology [for both indoor and outdoor wireless positioning], and information management [regarding computer technology of a built-in health monitoring system].” The authors conclude that their proposed vehicle can provide multiple positive functions for homecare use. —Laura Silverberg
Cheng, K., Liang, T., Lu, C., Shih, D., Cai, D., Hsu, M., Huang, J., 2010. A Web-based Light Electric Vehicle for Homecare Use – A Pilot Study. 2010 International Conference on Computational Aspects of Social Networks, 175–178.
Cheng et al. assess their project from three perspectives: from a technological viewpoint to “build an integration innovation of multiple technologies”; from the industry viewpoint, to “develop an add-on value of the culture electric vehicle for elderly use”; and from the welfare viewpoint, to “promote the humanity of devices.” The project was divided into six research groups focusing on the innovative platforms described above, in order to best develop the proposed light electric vehicle. However, since the research groups are located at varying distant sites, a web-based interactive platform was developed to alleviate discussion and communication problems among the groups. Cheng et al. make note of the importance of collaboration between the varying research groups. In order for one research group to incorporate specific design elements into the light electric vehicle, it is up to another research group to develop that design. This partnership is important for the success of the vehicle.
Industrial design, power control and management, health monitoring and safety checking, information integration, and management are analyzed. Industrial design consists of the survey users’ needs for utilizing the light electric vehicle, the size and design of the vehicle, and the proposal of its conceptual design. The authors provide various views of the proposed light electric vehicle for outdoor use and its detachable chair for indoor use. The authors design a power control and management system to meet the needs of the vehicle. A figure outlining the power supply system is included in the paper. A health monitoring system measuring the ECG signal for vital signs has also been incorporated into the design of the light electric vehicle. Seat pressure and declined level are measured for safety checking. Additionally, a blockdiagram of the system and an image of the developed circuit board that controls the measurement of the ECG signal are provided. The authors integrate a computer screen shot of the management system of the light electric vehicle into their assessment.
The authors conclude that while the interaction information platform may provide a slight solution for communication problems, it is still difficult to discuss the innovative platforms among the participating research groups. However, that is not to say that the future design and implementation of the light electric vehicle is incapable of providing various beneficial functions for homecare use.