Education in Motion / Blog / January 2024 / Switch-It Vigo Head Control Setup

Switch-It Vigo Head Control Setup

The Switch-It Vigo is a fully wireless Bluetooth headset that allows operation of a power wheelchair using small head movements. Plus, it has an integrated microphone for interacting with Bluetooth devices. Let's review setup considerations for success. Also, check out the range of setup videos from the manufacturer, NowTechnologies.

Which power wheelchair controller systems is Vigo compatible with?

The Vigo is fully compatible with the Sunrise Medical power wheelchair range, in addition to working with most modern power wheelchair control systems. The Vigo requires the same electronics setup as any other special input device such as a head array or switched drive controls. For example:

  • Curtiss-Wright R-NET control with an OMNI 2 input module. This is the primary option for Sunrise Medical's QUICKIE & Magic Mobility power wheelchairs and Permobil. The screen allows the wheelchair rider to operate not only driving functions of the wheelchair, but all chair modes and external devices (such as infrared environmental controls and Bluetooth-enabled mobile technology). As this is the most popular option, components discussed below focus on R-NET setup.
  • Dynamix Linx system via the DLX-IN500 input module. Linx control systems are an option on many Sunrise Medical chairs in Europe.
  • Quantum Rehab's Q-Logic 3 EX Enhanced Display or SCIM Module.

Components for wheelchair operation

The Vigo headset positions gyroscope sensors close to the head to interpret head movements for wheelchair control. In order to keep the headset itself extremely light and low profile, an external gyro link module attaches to the OMNI 2 control box, stored within the zippered case on the back of Sunrise Medical power wheelchairs. Signals from the headset travel to the external gyro link module, mounted neatly on top of the OMNI 2 display screen. The gyro link then communicates with the Cubo Bluetooth receiver module. Here, the inputs are translated into joystick signals which the wheelchair's controller system can use for all wheelchair functions.

Switch-It Vigo power wheelchair head control
Vigo headset unit, Vigo sensor, and multi-function activation button mounted on the right
Gyro Link
Gyro link unit, which connects to OMNI 2 control box and communicates with Cubo receiver
OMNI 2 unit
OMNI 2 unit including display screen and external control box (stored in rear zippered case on most Sunrise Medical power wheelchairs)
Cubo Bluetooth receiver unit
Cubo Bluetooth receiver unit
Cubo mounted above OMNI 2 user screen
Cubo in situ mounted above OMNI 2 user screen

Powering on: headrest sensor or alternative switch

The Vigo needs an external switch to power on and off, as well as activate the Bluetooth link and recalibrate for each use. The Vigo kit includes a "Headrest Sensor" force switch option that plugs into the Cubo. This can be attached to the front of the head support pad via a neoprene hook-and-loop cover, or in some cases inserted inside the headrest just under the cover. Alternatively, any switch compatible with a 3.5mm jack, such as a buddy button, could be used. Finally, the silver multifunction button on the headset Vigo sensor can be pressed for five seconds to power on.

Vigo headrest sensor switch without covering
Vigo headrest sensor switch without covering, for use inside headrest or other supports
Vigo headrest sensor switch with cover
The headrest sensor switch in neoprene and velcro cover for attaching externally to the headrest
Vigo headrest activation switch placed on outside of headrest
Vigo headrest activation switch placed on outside of headrest

Accessing other wheelchair functions: Integrated gesture switch and alternatives

The Vigo Sensor on the headrest has an integrated infrared gesture sensor switch that can be used to access the OMNI menu for other modes, such as seating. This is activated by facial movements, such as puffing the cheeks out or a strong wink. Alternatively, the Vigo can be configured to timeout to the OMNI menu after a period of inactivity, or a second switch could be used to move between modes and profiles. Using these last two options helps preserve the Vigo headset's integrated battery life.

USB dongle: Programming and mouse control

Vigo USB dongle
Vigo USB dongle for programming and computer mouse control

Additionally, the Vigo features an external USB dongle. This plugs into a computer for customization of Vigo settings, as well as using the Vigo for direct Bluetooth control of mouse functions if desired. For each Vigo system, the headset, gyro link, Cubo, and USB dongle are paired at time of manufacture to work together. However, additional dongles can be coded to the system after purchase for use with other devices. This could allow an individual to control a laptop in one room, drive to a desktop computer in another room, and continue to use the system there as well.

Vigo programming software
Vigo programming software

Want to learn more about the Vigo? A range of tutorial videos are available online.

Faith Brown

Faith Brown is an HCPC-registered occupational therapist with over 20 years of international experience in the field of seating and mobility including the British National Health Service, as well as the private and NGO sectors. She has worked with all ages and levels of complexity, including leading an NHS special seating division. She is a research champion for the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and has a history of lifelong professional development. Her post-qualification education includes a postgraduate certificate in Postural Management for People with Complex Disabilities from Oxford Brookes University, an MSc in Health Research Methods from the University of Birmingham (UK) and completion of an engineering module in wheelchair design at the University of San Francisco.

Jessica Pedersen

With over 40 years of clinical practice as an OT, Jessica Pedersen has worked in all sectors of the wheelchair and seating industry as a master clinician, supplier, manufacturing consultant, design representative, and educator. Dr. Pedersen was a pioneer in the development of the profession of wheelchairs and seating in the 1980s and has spent the last two decades contributing to the research world to demonstrate evidence for knowledge translation in the clinic, advocacy, and product development. She is a RESNA and AOTA Fellow, serves on the Clinician Task Force, the Seating and Wheeled Mobility Committee for AOTA, and has shared her experiences internationally through publications and presentations.

Published: 1/8/2024

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