June 1, 2009 With the post-war baby boomer population moving closer to retirement, devices that enable the elderly to remain mobile not only have a critical role to play in improving quality of life, they have a lucrative market to access. Student designer Daniel Molloy's Boomer mobility aid is well placed to do both. The shape-shifting Boomer can be a shopping cart, a comfy seat or a walking frame which can be used to maneuver safely up and down stairs.

Highly commended for his efforts in the Australian Design Award - James Dyson Award announced last week, Molloy also hopes the Boomer can "create a new modern aesthetic for elderly mobility aids".

Design features

While not sporting the inbuilt CPU’s and motion sensors of Honda's recent take on the walking assist devices, the Boomer still packs in plenty of design smarts. The stair ready function uses a simple push button release to fold the mobility aid and an electric linear actuator operates to create a stable support at the base of the rear wheels. This provides the user with and additional level of stability whilst negotiating stairs.

Easy height adjustment can accommodate varying users - making it ideal for the lease market, hospital or elderly home use - and the walker can be folded up for storage or transportation.

Also featured is a padded seat and backrest for the users comfort whilst resting and to sit down for that well-earned cup of tea. The padded backrest also contains a very useful zippered pocket with a fold-out nylon storage bag to hold the shopping.

Materials and processes

The Boomer has a sleek organic form achieved through gas-assisted injection molding which produces a hollowed, lightweight product with a high stiffness-to- weight ratio. The hollow can also be used to house the stair ready components, brake mechanisms and cables to create a more attractive package. The structural components will be made from a high temperature high performance polymer, which has stiffness and strength properties similar to metals.

David Greig