Students create hands-free door tech for people in wheelchairs

Local News

PROVO (ABC4 Utah) – Six BYU students have created a device to make all handicapped doors hands-free. They call their young company Piero and say their goal is to make life easier for those with disabilities. 

Any wheelchair user can tell you–doors are a pain. Kendra Muller has been in a wheelchair since she was 14. She says, “Wheelchair doors are kind of sketchy, they break down a lot so you can’t even use them. Sometimes the buttons are in hard to reach places so you can’t even reach them, sometimes they close too fast so then you can’t get through either.”

The Piero team is trying to change that. 

Riley Budd is a mechanical engineering student. He explained, “Basically what were doing is taking a handicapped door and putting a computer on it so that we can open it for a wheelchair user so they don’t have to worry about pushing a button.”

Instead of hitting a button, wheelchair users will only need a smart-phone app or a key fob that interacts with the door via blue-tooth.

The product also lends itself to building maintenance. Not only does it open a door, but it will also monitor the motor and functionality of the door. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that handicapped doors stay open for 15 seconds, but that can be hard to track. 

Budd says, “Right now most maintenance on handicapped doors is reactive. So a facilities manager has no idea whether or not a door is working until someone tries to use it get frustrated and gives them a call and says, hey I couldn’t get in here. We’ve talked to a professor here who’s done some research and found that in Utah at several of the major campuses, about 1/3 of the doors don’t meet ADA requirements and 1/10 of them don’t work.”

Their system would retrofit to existing door motors give the facilities manager a simple map of the motorized doors and their status. 

The team has already been featured in Forbes and they’ve won $10,000 in the CommonBond Social Impact Award competition. 

To find out more about the company or to request the tech at your campus or company, got to their websitehttps://www.piero.space/

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