20-year-old intern's Connected Wheelchair could save lives (video)

Intel intern uses the chipmaker's technology to modify a wheelchair. The resulting device has caught the eye of Stephen Hawking.

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Some interns fetch coffee, others try to change the world. Tim Balz, a college sophomore whom chipmaker Intel wisely hired for a summer internship, falls into the latter batch. The 20-year-old served as team lead for a multidisciplinary group of interns whose expertise ranged from computer science and software to hardware and user interface. Their summer project? Transform a standard wheelchair with a heavy dose of Intel technology. The result was the Connected Wheelchair. The CNET News crew caught up with Balz at the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco for a closer look.

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Balz's passion for helping wheelchair users started in 2011, when he founded Freedom Chairs, a nonprofit that fixes up electric wheelchairs for people in need. In Balz, Intel found a natural leader for its Connected Wheelchair project. The undergrad decided to major in mechanical engineering after what he describes as a "life-altering" experience in the FIRST Robotics Competition.