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Wheelchairs

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
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 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
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
Although some wheelchair users could conceivably make use of devices like the GoPad, a researcher at Purdue University has developed a motorized wheelchair tray that looks to be a better option for giving wheelchair users convenient access to mobile devices. Employing a motorized arm, the “RoboDesk” can deploy or retract a tablet or lightweight laptop computer as needed. Read More
A solar-powered wheelchair designed by students at the University of Virginia has won first prize in a competition, Change My Life in One Minute, to mark World Cerebral Palsy Day. Entrants to the competition were asked to come up with an innovation that could make a significant difference to a person with a disability. The solar-powered wheelchair can run continuously powered only by the sun. Read More
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. Read More
Constantly being talked down to is bad enough, but wheelchair users also have to deal with the problem of accessing items that are often located out of their reach. A research team from Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has developed the “i-Transport” robotic vehicle that is designed to get wheelchair users on their feet so they can carry out conversations eye to eye and grasp hard-to-reach items. Read More
Chevrolet and Michigan Technological University have teamed up to build a new tricycle for wounded veterans. This new cycle is built to be race-ready, so users are still able to compete in marathons and other distance races in the most efficient way possible. Read More
Researchers at the University of Tokyo's Kamata lab are working on a new wheeled robotic vehicle that can climb stairs. Called the NOBOROT, it uses a proximity sensor to detect when it is next to a step and is able to maintain a level posture while ascending and descending to ensure a smooth ride. Read More
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