Inventor and educator Hung Nguyen, one of this year’s Anthill Smart 100 honourees, is a finalist for New South Wales Australian of the Year 2012.
Nguyen, dean of the engineering and information technology department of the University of Technology in Sydney, is the inventor of Aviator, a tech that allows a wheelchair to be piloted by the user’s brain waves.
Aviator collects brain signals from a discretely placed electrode in the back of the head and converts that energy into commands that control the wheelchair’s movements.
The technology, which would elevate the quality of life for people with severe disabilities, earned third place on our Smart 100 list.
Existing locomotive systems for wheelchair users with limited or no use of their hands included joysticks, a “sip and puff” tube or a chin stick (a la Christopher Reeve). There also are devices that translate a head’s movement to wheelchair commands. But all of these require external, physical influence.
The NSW award winner is scheduled to be announced Wednesday, 23 November. Winners become finalists for Australian of the Year, a honor given on the eve of Australia Day.
Recent Australian of the Year winners have included philanthropist Simon McKeon, youth mental health advocate Patrick McGorry and Aboriginal leader Michael Dodson.