Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Wheelchairs

The Freedom Chair's knobby bike tires and torque-increasing lever drive help it navigate r...

The wheelchair provides invaluable mobility to those with disabilities, but there are countless places where it can't go. Trails, parks, beaches, woods …without a paved road or structured pathway, the wheelchair can quickly find itself out of its element. The GRIT Freedom Chair updates wheelchair design – well not technically wheelchair, but "recreational device" – with all-terrain capabilities. Part mountain bike, part (recreational) wheelchair, the Freedom Chair opens up a new world of exploration.  Read More

The MOM incubator, first-prize winner of the 2014 James Dyson Award

James Roberts, a 23 year-old design grad from Britain's Loughborough University, has won this year's international James Dyson Award for his portable inflatable incubator. Called MOM, the device is intended to be a low-cost alternative to traditional incubators, allowing premature babies in places such as refugee camps to survive when they might otherwise perish. Read on for more details on it, along with the three runners-up.  Read More

The Towter Transporter can reportedly be towed by any vehicle equipped with a standard tra...

When someone has a powered wheelchair that needs to be transported, the purchase of a wheelchair-accessible van is often required. Canadian inventor Len Wideman, however, doesn’t think that people should have to go to such an extreme. That’s why he created the Towter Transporter. It’s a climate-controlled trailer that’s designed for the easy loading and unloading of wheelchairs, and it can be towed by any standard-hitch-equipped vehicle.  Read More

The HexHog will set you back from £18,000 to £25,000 (Photo: HexHog)

Though electric wheelchairs offer users increased mobility, they don't tend to perform very well in off-road conditions. British engineer Sion Pierce aims to give disabled people another option in this regard with the HexHog, a six-wheeled, electric ATV (all terrain vehicle) that, like the UNiMO is designed to take on the most difficult terrain you can throw at it.  Read More

The Zinger weighs 38 pounds, and folds down to go in a car

For people who are almost entirely unable to walk, a powerful heavy-duty electric wheelchair is sometimes necessary. For folks who simply have limited mobility, however, often all that's needed is a little something to lessen the amount of walking that they have to do. A number of lightweight folding electric wheelchairs have emerged to serve that market. One of the latest, the Zinger, is also reportedly the lightest.  Read More

The Firefly, from Rio Mobility

Attaching in less than a minute, the Firefly electric handcycle turns a 4-wheeled manual wheelchair into a 3-wheeled power trike capable of taking you about 24 km (15 miles) at a decent clip of 18 km/h (11 mph). For less than US$2,000, it makes for a really nifty short to medium range getabout for walking the dog, popping down to the shops or short commutes.  Read More

SoftWheel's Fluent wheel replaces spokes with shocks

After breaking his pelvis six years ago, Israeli farmer Gilad Wolf invented a new suspension system for wheelchairs that incorporates shock absorbers into the wheels. He's now a board member of SoftWheel, a Tel Aviv-based company that refined his creation into a product known as the Acrobat wheel. Although the Acrobat was unveiled in 2012, this year SoftWheel announced something new – a bicycle wheel that uses the same technology, known as the Fluent wheel.  Read More

Panasonic's Resyone robotic bed transforms into an electric wheelchair (Photo: Gizmag)

There's a lot of talk about Japan's rapidly aging society, and how it is expected to literally place a heavy burden on the island nation's caregivers. Among the many projected problems is a smaller pool of health care workers amidst a growing tide of elderly who require around-the-clock care. With that kind of workload, nurses are more likely to injure themselves or their patients when lifting them into and out of bed. Various solutions are in the works, such as a giant lifting robot that looks like a teddy bear, but few are as practical as Panasonic's Resyone robotic bed. It recently became the first to be certified ISO13482 compliant, the new global safety standard for service robots.  Read More

The UNiMO Grace is a stylish Apple-esque armchair-on-wheels, while the Adventure model is ...

The tracked UNiMO 400 W EV drive-train debuted at IREX last week, promising new levels of personal mobility for wheelchair users. Both models of the Unimo wheelchair will be in production by the end of this month: the US$18,000 Unimo Grace and the US$10,000 Unimo Adventure, one a stylish armchair on wheels, the other a sport model for going places you cannot normally go in a wheelchair.  Read More

The Whill Type-A wheelchair

A couple of years ago at the Tokyo Motor Show, we came across an interesting prototype device known as the Whill. Looking sort of like a giant pair of headphones, it could be clamped over the wheels of an existing manual wheelchair, temporarily providing it with an electric drive system. Although that particular device was never commercialized, its makers recently let us know that a product based on the technology is now about to enter production – the Whill Type-A motorized wheelchair.  Read More

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