How Were The Blind Spot Sensors Designed?
The Braze Mobility Blind Spot Sensors are based on over a decade of "smart" wheelchair research and development by founders Drs. Pooja Viswanathan and Alex Mihailidis. When starting the business, the founders focused on two things: How can we create a solution that is evidence-based and centered around the users’ needs? And how can we make the solution both affordable and fundable?
We use clinical evidence, user-centered design methods, and co-design with users to ensure that our products help users, their families, and therapists achieve their goals for independent mobility. Over the years, we have worked closely with clinicians, caregivers, manufacturers, distributors, and wheelchair users, in order to increase safe and independent mobility.
How Do The Blind Spot Sensors Work?
They are a set of sensors that can be attached to any manual or powered wheelchair, turning it into a "smart" wheelchair. The system provides alerts to the wheelchair user about objects in the environment through multimodal feedback (light, sound, and vibrations) empowering them to navigate safely and independently.
Braze Blind Spot Sensors do more than just alert users to objects around them. They were designed to increase the overall spatial awareness of the person using the system and can be used to help people perform activities of daily living with their wheelchairs while maintaining their independence.
The system provides feedback on both the location and proximity of obstacles, and detection distances are fully customizable. This intuitive feedback is helpful to navigate through tight spaces, by providing the user with a clear understanding of how they are positioned. Clients using the system are able to easily understand the feedback and most are able to use it to navigate within minutes.
Note: Our system does NOT detect drop-offs, soft material, or objects out of view of the sensors. Legally blind customers often use our sensors in conjunction with a white cane to navigate outdoors.
20-second overview of Braze Blind Spot Sensors
5-minute demo of Blind Spot Sensors and Feedback
20-second animation of visual feedback (left, middle, right)
40-second animation of visual feedback (short and long range)
Who Can Benefit From Blind Spot Sensors?
According to Simpson (2008), up to 91% of wheelchair users can benefit from "smart" wheelchairs. Here is the breakdown by diagnosis:
|Diagnosis||Symptoms that results in decreased spatial awareness|
|Spinal cord injury (SCI)||Limited head/neck movement|
|Low Vision / Blindness||Vision loss|
|Multiple sclerosis (MS)||Limited head/neck movement, fatigue/weakness|
|Parkinson's disease (PD)||Visual field neglect|
|Stroke||Visual field neglect/loss|
|Severe traumatic brain injury (TBI)||Visual field neglect, fatigue/weakness, head/neck movement, inattention|
|Alzheimer's disease (AD)||Inattention|
|Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)||Limited head/neck movement, fatigue/weakness|
It is important to not only consider the client's diagnosis, needs, and abilities, but also his/her wheelchair configuration and environment. For example, the following scenarios can lead to reduced spatial awareness and navigation challenges:
How Long Does Blind Spot Sensor Training Take?
Clients as young as 7 years old, and clients with varying levels of cognition* have successfully used Braze Mobility systems. The system feedback was designed to be intuitive, with all feedback designed to clearly prompt the user to safely navigate the chair.
While most clients can learn how to use basic features of the system within minutes, some clients might need up to a month of training before they can navigate safely with the system. Our founder, Dr. Viswanathan, spent several years in academia working with individuals with cognitive impairment, and has designed training protocols based on her research and clinically validated wheelchair training and assessment tools. Contact us to access these guides or to collaborate with us on new training protocols!
If you are unsure if the client will be able to use the system, you can use our free BrazeView simulator and training app to determine whether the client is able to understand the feedback and execute the correct response even before trialling the Blind Spot Sensors - watch the video on the left for more info and download the app today!
*Our Blind Spot Sensors only provide the driver with information and do not control the wheelchair in any way. They should not be relied upon to prevent collisions.
Where Are The Blind Spot Sensors Used?
The Braze Blind Spot Sensors can be used to align clients in a doorway, allowing them to back through while ensuring they are at an equal distance from both walls.
The Braze Blind Spot Sensors has been used to help clients navigate through tight spaces, such as kitchens and bathrooms. The feedback helps the client ensure that they are centred in the space, and increases their confidence while navigating in enclosed spaces.
The Braze Blind Spot Sensors have also been used for accessing public transportation, such as navigating onto and off of busses and streetcars.
Other use cases include:
- Getting on and off elevators is another activity of daily living made easier with the Braze Blind Spot Sensors. If the client drives forwards onto an elevator, and does not have enough room to turn around, the feedback can be used to determine when the doors are fully open, and then used to position the wheelchair in the doorway to back-out easily.
- For people with decreased hearing, or who are easily startled by people coming up behind them, Braze Blind Spot Sensors can be used to alert the person that someone is coming up behind them.
- For people who often take public transportation or travel through densely populated areas and carry backpacks on the back of their seat, the Blind Spot Sensors can be used to make sure they know if someone is behind them to help them protect their belongings from theft.
- For clients that have difficulty seeing their feet, Braze Mobility Echo Head sensors can be placed under foot rests to alert them when they are getting too close to objects.
What Are The Benefits Of The Blind Spot Sensors?
Independence - Backing up often requires assistance from others to navigate safely. Braze Blind Spot Sensors enhance users' spatial awareness and help them navigate more independently.
Confidence - Many of our clients report that before using the Braze system, they had difficulty navigating in public, which led to embarrassment and/or safety concerns like knocking over shelves at department and grocery stores and running into children, other people, or strollers. These users reported increased confidence to engage with the community as a result of our system's actionable feedback that can help avoid embarrassing and potentially hazardous situations.
- Increased access to power mobility for some clients - For clients who experience challenges in operating their power mobility device safely, Braze Blind Spot Sensors may provide them with the information needed to enhance their driving abilities, such as helping them learn the footprint of their chair. Some clients have said they used the system frequently inside their home when they were first prescribed their chair, and now primarily use it in unfamiliar spaces.
- Easy to use and install - All system feedback was designed to be intuitive and easy to understand, with the different modalities (lights, sounds, and vibrations) for increased accessibility. The Braze sensors can be installed without any permanent modifications to the chair. These sensors operate completely separate from the wheelchair and do not control the chair in any way. Resources to help clients, therapists, and ATPs use the product are available, including videos and manuals on recommended use, information packages, and apps for training and customization. We also provide support on-demand in collaboration with our dealer partners across the country!
Are There Any Case Studies With The Blind Spot Sensors?
Yes, of course! We have several success stories with the Braze Blind Spot Sensors to share, and continue to hear more! Below are three unique case studies that you can also download below.
Phil Ratzlaff, US Marine Veteran
Powered Wheelchair User
(Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, legal blindness)
Wade Watts, Business Owner
Manual and Powered Wheelchair User
David Watson, Long-Term Care Resident
Powered Wheelchair User
How Much Do The Blind Spot Sensors Cost?
The Blind Spot Sensors start at $1,850 MSRP, with the most popular package costing around $2,500 MSRP (which tends to be within the funding cap of various organizations). Custom packages are available depending on your client's specific needs. You can describe where the sensors are needed on our Quote Request Form in order to receive an accurate quote (please see the ordering process below). We will work with you to find the most cost-effective solution for your client.
Is There Funding For Blind Spot Sensors?
Our product does not have a code and typically uses miscellaneous codes K0108 or E1399. Note that while funding is approved on a case by case basis, we’ve had success with the following organizations:
- US Dept of Veterans Affairs
- Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
- Auto insurance
- Commercial Insurance
- Worker's Comp
- Medicaid Programs (i.e. Aetna Medicaid in Ohio, Mercy Care in Arizona)
- March of Dimes Canada
There are other funding options, through charities and monthly payment plans to make our products affordable. If you would like to apply for funding, please contact us and will work with you to help get it funded.
How Do I Order Or Trial Blind Spot Sensors For My Client?
You can get started by filling out an Intake Form. We have dealer and independent representatives in Canada and the U.S. and can work with other providers if your clinic or institution has a preference. We also offer in-services to provide an explanation and demonstration of our Blind Spot Sensor systems. This is a great way for you and your colleagues to learn more about the Braze Blind Spot Sensors. Once you fill out the form, we can either do a virtual inservice by our founder, Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, or arrange for a local rep to meet you in person.
For institutions that are interested, we sell an Evaluation Kit for therapists that comes with mounts that can be easily moved from one wheelchair to another to allow quick trials with several clients.
If you work with the VA, we are a SAM approved vendor (DUNS#: 241998019). Once funding for the client is approved, VA staff can email purchase orders to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax purchase orders to 1-877-272-9326.
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