Getting from A to B in a wheelchair is enough of a challenge in itself, without considering the hassle of stowing the chair away each time its user wishes to travel by car, plane, or train. The Morph Wheel aims to make life a little easier in this regard, by providing a wheelchair wheel which folds into almost half its original size.

The Morph Wheel was initially created by Vitamins Designed under the moniker "The Folding Wheel," and conceived for use with folding bicycles. However, the firm received such a vocal response from the disabled community that it felt compelled to channel its efforts to providing wheelchair wheels instead. The concept has thus been taken up and manufactured in this guise by U.S. company Maddak.

When folded, the wheel takes up a total of 12 liters (0.4 cubic feet) of space, compared with the 22 liters (0.7 cubic feet) it would usually fill when fully circular – a saving of almost half the volume. Put another way, this enables its size to be reduced from 24 inches (61 cm) in diameter, to the more manageable dimensions of 32 x 12.5 inches (81 x 32 cm).

Each Morph Wheel tips the scales at 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg), and when used in a pair can support up to 300 pounds (136 kg). It's constructed from glass filled nylon, with a polypropylene hand rim, and solid tire.

Maddak states that the Morph Wheel can fit into overhead bins, closets, car trunks, and even under an airplane seat during flights. It features a safety mechanism which prevents folding unless desired by the user, and will fit to any existing wheelchair able to accommodate a wheel with a quick release axle. The folding mechanism is said to be easy to master, not requiring any special tools.

The Morph Wheel is available now, and sold as a pair from US$950.

Sources: Maddak, Vitamins Design via Designboom