The first time I sat on the iBOT in balance mode I thought I would fall over and it would kind of Wile E Coyote style fall on top of me, but the iBOT performed perfectly. I was high up, eye level with the team, balancing, hovering in the air like we were told the future would hold. I then began documenting everything we needed. Here are a few notes I had written to myself:
- What is the procedure for transitioning the chair from mode to mode? Don’t forget to record the iBOT movements. Don’t forget the icons and what is lit up or not at any time.
- Ask what decision points when using the chair. Why might someone want to do something different than the procedure? What situations might influence not going from one mode to another? What risk factors should be considered?
- What imagery/video is available from client?
To recreate the chair in 3D, we needed photos and video for textures and reference. Jon, our resident 3D guru, would use these to bring the chair to life in 3D Studio Max, our 3D software of choice.
We recorded videos showing what not to do with the iBOT as well. Don’t turn it off when it is in balancing mode. It will fall over. And it balances so well, you have a 50% chance of falling forward or backward. Also, don’t try and drive one wheel up a curb and the other wheel on level ground. It could cause the chair to fall over. That said, the iBOT worked so well again, that the engineers couldn’t get it to misbehave. In the end, they had to tie a belt around it and pull hard when it went up the curb to show how the iBOT could fall over. Quite a responsive device.
We met Dean Kamen briefly at this time. Have you ever sat in your car and thought to yourself, “If I had a helicopter, I could just fly it to work and skip all this traffic.” Well, Dean Kamen can. He has helicopters at home (two that I saw) and he can land them on top of his office building. I would say that traffic wouldn’t be a problem where we were in New Hampshire, but while we were testing the iBOT out in the DEKA parking lot, a driver who was passing by and seeing this futuristic wheelchair balancing on its own for the first time, smashed right into another car right in front of us. I suppose these traffic accidents can back things up and make helicopters a very handy commodity.
To finalize our trip, we stopped by Dean Kamen’s home, which could be called a number of things – a mansion, a workshop, and a museum come to mind most. Neat place. There we would shoot video of the iBot and take several final photos. Great team there to work with.
All in all, we met our trip objectives.