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Wheelchairs

Magic Wheelchair: More mileage, less effort

August 10, 2007 Even with years of practice the wear and tear on the body from utilizing a manual wheelchair is immense. Users experience ongoing pain (and in some cases long-term injury) in the arms and shoulders as a result of being reliant on manual force to propel the chair’s weight in addition to their own body weight. One company has sought to alleviate some of this pain by releasing new and innovative technology which is bringing wheelchairs up to speed.  Read More

The autonomous wheelchair raises the promise of assistive mobile robots

December 17, 2006 There are few areas in which technology can make such a great difference as in mobility assistance for the disabled and aged market. We’ve already written about Kanagawa Institute of Technology’s Power Assist Suit, Independence Technology’s iBot, and a mind-controlled wheelchair, but the announcement this week that researchers in Sweden have developed a wheelchair that can be driven manually, by remote controlled or fully autonomously suggests that devices enabling the most severely handicapped people to achieve independent mobility are inevitable .  Read More

The Fuel Cell Wheelchair

November 3, 2006 We’re growing more convinced by the day that the future of mobility does not look like the automobile – we suspect the old concept of lugging a few tons of steel around to carry one or two people will be seen as excessively wasteful very soon, and accordingly expect the market for short-distance, one and two person transport to offer a plethora of interesting alternatives. Like this one! Suzuki is showing an interesting fuel-cell-powered wheelchair prototype named the MIO to assess customer interest. The MIO features a fuel cell that uses methanol as a fuel source to generate hydrogen and therefore electricity. The tank holds 4 litres and that’s sufficient to provide MIO with a range of approximately 25 miles. There’s also an LCD display showing fuel level and power sources. Therefore, unlike wheelchairs that rely solely on mains charging of the battery, it addresses users’ fears of being stranded at some distance from their home.  Read More

The wheelchair-accessible limousine

September 22, 2006 Dignity Transportation caters for those in the Canadian community with special transportation needs. As its fleet has grown, it has commissioned numerous specially-built transportation designs from wheel-chair accessible taxies to full size vans to wheelchair accessible buses. Recognizing there was a demand for a truly luxurious wheelchair accessible limousine. The result is the Dignity Star, an 8 passenger limo-inside-a-van that began life as a 2006 Dodge High Roof Sprinter 2500 SHC. Believed to be the only such vehicle in North America, the luxurious wheelchair-accessible limousine accommodates two wheelchairs and six people on a curved leather couch and takes Special Needs Transportation to a new level. Inside it’s the usual over-the-top spec with control over everything from climate control to a 20" LCD TV, five-speaker sound system with four sets of wireless headphones, laptop connectivity, DVD/CD system, ad infinitum. In terms of accessibility, it has the lot.  Read More

The Standing Wheelchair

August 17, 2006 With Segway releasing its second generation design earlier this week, this Standing WheelChair concept showcased on CoolHunter becomes much closer to reality – indeed, we’d be very surprised if the remarkably fertile mind of Dean Kamen, who is responsible for both the Segway and the iBot hadn’t thought of this along the way given that the iBot morphs both concepts, and can be further extended to the four-wheeled Segway Centaur. Then there’s traces of BRP’s Embrio one-wheeler, Tommy Forsgren’s Hermes concept (still one of the most inspiring and appealing designs we have ever seen) and of course the use of Osmos’ wheel technology always adds a bit of sex appeal to any design. The standing wheelchair allows people to stand upright. For those with full mobility, it looks like fun, for those who are handicapped in their mobility, such a device would be enormously empowering.  Read More

The WheelChair Mover - an Ergonomic Mobility Solution

August 16, 2006 With a workforce that is growing older and both patients and facilities that are growing larger, hospitals and nursing home caregivers are enduring the highest rate of injury of any occupation. That’s the broad thinking that resulted in Dane Technologies’ WheelChair Mover, the healthcare industry's first power-assist device making patient wheelchair transport safe, smooth and easy.  Read More

Carbon fibre monocoque wheelchair

June 15, 2006 With the post-war baby boom now moving towards senior citizenship, markets for many specialised goods and services devoted to elderly needs are about to mushroom and one that’s certain to reach unprecedented heights is that of wheelchairs. The proportion of the population using wheelchairs increases sharply with age with roughly 3% of people over 65 using them and as an unprecedented number of fashion- and status- conscious boomers reach their seventies, designer wheelchairs and other mobility aids will be big business. Accordingly, when a manufacturer of WRC and Formula One race car parts turns his hand to wheelchair design, we expect there’ll be an equally exclusive market for high tech practical wheelchairs and the Trekinetic K2 launched at the UK’s Mobility Roadshow last weekend certainly fits that bill. Built by designer Mike Spindle, the K2 is entirely new in every respect. Gone is the old tubular frame, replaced with a carbon fiber monocoque based around the seat. Similarly, the layout has been rearranged with two large wheels with adjustable camber at the front and singular rear trailing castor for excellent stability and the ability to negotiate uneven (off road) terrain. It also has adjustable height via an adjustable nitrogen shock absorber, is extremely light, folds up for easy transportation in just a few seconds, has a unique brake-steer system, an automatic inbuilt umbrella and although it’s not cheap at UKP1800, it has no equal in the world of wheelchairs.  Read More

NTU builds a better wheelchair

June 5, 2006 Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has developed an innovative ‘gap clearing’ mechanism that could bring about long term convenience and benefits to physically disabled people in wheelchairs. This invention, called the Wheelchair Gap Enabler, allows wheelchair users to board a bus faster and easier and also clear low steps, such as roadside curbs, with ease and efficiency.  Read More

The four-wheel drive hybrid wheelchair

April 20, 2006 Technology is beginning to yield many new and wonderous devices to make life better, safer and more fun, but few can compare to the life-enhancement offered by a new wheelchair which offers mobility-impaired and aged people an unprecedented level of freedom. It is comfortable, all-terrain and safe - a four-wheel drive wheelchair with hybrid motor and electronic assistance system has the immense potential to enable the physically disabled live more independent lives, to enable Octagenarians to bushwalk, and paraplegics . The innovative system even checks pulse rate and blood values and calls for help in emergencies.  Read More

Gizmo of the Week: the US$44.40 wheelchair

January 19, 2006 It is estimated that there are more than 100 million people in the world who need a wheelchair but cannot afford one. Mechanical engineer Don Schoendorfer had a secure, highly-paid job when he decided he could make a difference during his short stay on the planet, forsaking his job and embarking on a quest to help all those people. Don’s goal is to distribute 20 million of the pictured wheelchairs by the year 2010. Don set up the Free Wheelchair Mission in California in 2001 as non-profit organization committed to providing the gift of mobility to the physically disabled poor in developing countries and has just manufactured its 100,000th wheelchair. The central seat is a plastic garden chair – the use of existing parts enables the wheelchair to be manufactured in China, shipped in knockdown form via container, assembled and delivered to needy people all over the world for a total factory-to-field price of US$44.40. The Free Wheelchair Mission creatively partners with like-minded international humanitarian and indigenous organizations and it also accepts donations. Just think how much difference US$44.40 can make to the life of one human being.  Read More

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