Saturday, December 10, 2011

WHILL Turns Manual Chair Into Powerchair

WHILL, a Japanese mobility company, recently debuted a prototype of their WHILL personal mobility device at the Tokyo Motor Show.  The premise for this device is to give wheelchairs who may not necessarily need a powerchair full-time but could use the power for traveling long distances.  It seems that this could only be used outside as this would significantly add width to the chair when in use.  More information and images after the jump.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bridgestone Shows Off Air-Free Tires On A Scooter

Air-free tires are not a new idea in the world of wheelchairs and scooters as foam-filled and solid-rubber tires have been available as options.  Solid tires are extremely durable and the worry to maintain optimal tire pressure or even a puncture is not there.  Despite this, there are a number of people who prefer conventional pneumatic tires due to the better ride that a solid tire could never offer.  What if there was an option that allowed a wheelchair/scooter user to have the ride of a pneumatic tire with the benefits of a solid tire?  Bridgestone has recently demonstrated their solution with their Air-Free tire.  More info after the jump.

Ford To End Production of Econoline, Replaced By Transit in 2013

Ford has announced that the Econoline, the full-size that is widely used in North America for wheelchair vans, medical transports, and taxis, will end production and be replaced by the Transit in 2013.  The Econoline has been sold in North America for decades and has become the mainstay of wheelchair vans, becoming the full-size vehicle of choice when one's wheelchair does not fit into a minivan.

The Transit is not a bad replacement at all.  Outside North America, it shares the same reputation as the Econoline and performs exactly the same purpose.  To prove its capabilities, Ford has been putting the van through the same tests to ensure that the Transit can handle the same abuse that the Econoline has been subjected to for decades.  With a variety of lengths, heights, engines, and even the choice of front or rear wheel drive, the Transit should be able to fill the big shoes in the wheelchair van market that will be left when the Econoline production finishes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Maddak Inc. Collapsable Wheels For Manual Chairs

Maddak Inc. is working to bring an innovative set of collapsable wheels for manual chairs in September of 2013. Originally conceived for use on bicycles, this application for this wheel, as explained by Maddak, "will enable wheelchair users to get their wheelchair and wheels into and out of a car with greater ease, to pack an extra set of wheels in a suitcase when travelling, and to potentially even keep their wheelchair inside the cabin of a plane instead of in stowage. In other words, a foldable wheel has the ability to increase the user’s independence while making life a little easier.”

When the wheel is collapsed, the space the wheel occupies is reduced by about half.  The reduction in space can open up the possibilities to transport the user's wheelchair in vehicles that are smaller or have smaller openings that currently prevent a set of normal wheelchair wheels from being placed inside the vehicle.

No pricing information has been released.  More images after the jump.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

LED-equiped Contact Lenses Could Give Us Terminator Vision

Researchers have recently tested a new type of contact lens that is equipped with a single LED and have been able to conclude that it caused no adverse affects to the user.  This conclusion can open up the possibility of projecting information directly into the user's eye thus eliminating the need for a traditional display.  This evolution of a Heads-Up Display (HUD) could not only be used to display information but could also potentially enhance the vision of the user in a way that goes beyond the traditional use for contact lenses.  Think of the vision that the cyborg had in The Terminator as an inspiration and possibility of what could be possible.  More information after the jump.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bespoke Innovations Turn Prosthetics Into Art Pieces

Scott Summit, an Industrial Engineer from Stanford, has founded a company called Bespoke Innovations whose purpose is to use cutting edge technologies to drastically improve the self-esteem to those who have suffered limb loss by creating custom prosthetics that are not only very functional but also stunning pieces of art. Utilizing modern design, engineering, and manufacturing techniques, this company can create and produce bespoke prosthetic limb fairing in as little as 30 hours, starting at $4,000.  More information after the jump.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Iimagine Design's Carbon Black Wheelchair

Iimagine Design, based in the UK, recently debuted their new wheelchair, the "Carbon Black".  Utilizing the latest in design, manufacturing, and materials, this is a unique manual wheelchair constructed almost completely out of carbon fiber.  The overall design of this chair serves the purposes of not only being comfortable (as each chair is custom-measured to the user) and accessible but also streamlined and aesthetically pleasing to look at.  This is definitely not a wheelchair that you would mistake for the ones you see at a hospital.

The moving components of the chair are designed to be lubricant-free for low maintenance and the backrest and footrest can be adjusted without the use of tools.  The footrest also house LED lights to illuminate any dark areas the user should traverse.  Due to its carbon fiber construction, which is a quarter the weight but much stronger than steel, it should be significantly easier to move about.

Currently it is available in the EU.  There is no information as to whether this wheelchair will be sold in North America.  Hit the jump for another clip.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Smart Idea: Trevor Prideaux Integrates Smartphone Dock In Prosthetic Arm

What would you do if you have a prosthetic arm and a smartphone?  If you were Trevor Prideaux, you would have integrated a dock into your arm, just like he did.  The British native is being credited for being the first person in the world with this particular modification.  Before this idea came about, Prideaux  was considering purchasing an iPhone, but could not easily use it since he would have to balance his smartphone on his arm or use a table in order to use it.  The idea of integrating it into his arm was conceived and contacted Apple to obtain a blank iPhone to test the idea; unfortunately, the request was denied.  A prototype was created and made with help from the local prosthetic limb company and Nokia: after five weeks of development, a Nokia C7 dock was integrated into his left arm prosthesis to allow Prideaux to text, email, use the internet, and make calls without having to remove the phone from his arm.  This is such an amazing idea that Trevor hopes that "people who have had motorbike crashes and soldiers who have lost limbs - they could all benefit from this."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can Driverless Cars End Need For Adapted Vehicles?

While the latest advances in automotive technologies are initially conceived to make the driving experience safer and/or easier, technologies such as adapted cruise control, sensors, and GPS navigation systems have advanced automotive systems to the point that automakers such as GM have stated that by 2020, there will be vehicles available to the general public that will have the capability of driving autonomously.  Currently there are cars out there that do have the ability to park themselves without any driver input:  the idea of a car that can drive itself does not and should not seem to be that far-fetched of an idea.  To place this idea in the application for this blog, think about what this can do for people with disabilities.

If this autonomous driving technology becomes reliable to the point where the need for human intervention is not needed, this can open the doors to much of the disabled population who have previously have not had the ability to do so.  The physical requirements needed to operate controls could be removed, eliminating the barrier that holds back many disabled people.  The expensive process of making adapted driver controls and modifications could potentially be eliminated and dramatically reducing the cost barrier needed to be mobile.  To further expand on this idea, this technology can possibly be used to provide autonomous driving for wheelchair-bound people with more severe mobility issues.

What is the biggest obstacle to making autonomous vehicles mainstream?  Ourselves.  The need for us to have the ability to control will be the main issue to making this technology mainstream.  Until society can trust this technology enough to relinquish control, this will be nothing more than an engineering novelty.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Autoblog Takes VPG MV-1 For A Quick Spin

Autoblog has recently been given the opportunity to take the brief drive of VPG's MV-1 at their production facility in Indiana.  While the focus on their test drive was assessing the driving characteristics of this car, they managed to reveal some interesting bits of information that should be of interest to those interested in the car.

First off, if you plan on driving this from your chair, do not bother,   Hand controls cannot be mounted onto the steering column to operate the pedals:  this is designed to be a transporter vehicle only.  Thankfully, it appears to be a capable transporter with a wide-opening door and an under-the-floor ramp that can  make ingress and egress a cinch.  The ramp is stout and is designed to exceed the ADA requirements for vehicle ramps. There appears to be tie-down locations for the front passenger and middle-row area (just behind the front passenger).  Overall, it provides a simple and, when compared to the traditional lowered-floor minivan, affordable transportation.

You can read Autoblog's quick review at this link.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

VPG Auto's MV-1 Begins Production

VPG Autos has officially started production of their vehicle, the MV-1, at their manufacturing facility in Indiana.  The vehicle will be available for purchase both for commercial and consumer applications and has the distinction of being the first and only factory-built and assembled vehicle which meets or exceeds the vehicle guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The MV-1 will be available in either gasoline or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powertrains.  More information after the jump.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Brazilian Man In Wheelchair Goes 62 MPH on Highway

The clip above is video of a retired Brazilian fisherman who adapted his wheelchair with an engine capable of propelling him to speeds in excess of 100 KPH (62 MPH).  The retiree was detained by local police for driving without a license and for lacking an adapted vehicle permit.  For a man possessing a single arm to modify and operate a wheelchair at highway speeds and passing slower vehicles in the process, this is an amazing feat.  Check out the clip and enjoy!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Push Through

The following article was written by the creator of this blog for Cure CMD on the subject of transitioning from school to college to adulthood.  The intent for this piece is to focus on the thought process behind transitioning rather than actual information.  There are many other sites and resources where you can get actual information, such as SSDI and vehicle adaptation and wheelchairs, but there is not a lot of information regarding the thoughts of people who have went through this transition.  The following article, after the jump, is meant to provide this information:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mercedes F1 Team Sponsors Artificial Hand For Fan

British teen Matthew James, who was born without a left hand, found a creative way to secure funding to obtain an artificial hand.  The young Formula One fan wrote a letter to Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP Petronas team boss, asking him for the funding to get an artificial hand in exchange for permission for the company to place a Mercedes logo on his hand - along the same lines as the logos seen on their F1 cars.

Mercedes was so moved by the young man's letter that they agreed to help him and worked with Touch Bionics, maker of the i-Limb Pulse, to design a custom prosthetic hand for Matthew.  The i-Limb Pulse is one of the most advanced prosthetic limbs in the world.  With this hand, the teen will be able to grip a pen, tie his shoes, and catch a ball with ease.  The limb is controlled by electrodes that work from impulses coming from the muscles on his lower arm.  The hand is even equipped with Bluetooth so that the hands movements and strength can be monitored via computer.

This hand has been a massive help in allowing Matthew to live a normal life.  And yes, there is a Mercedes logo by his wrist.  Watch the clip above to find out more information.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Part Man Part Car Tip: Service Your Chair/Scooter Or Else It Can Catch Fire

Aiden Cassidy's story of his scooter serves as a reminder to powerchair/scooter users to make sure your chair is properly maintained.

The 77 year-old stroke victim from the UK was using his 6 month old scooter when he noticed that the motor was cutting out.  After shutting the scooter off and restarting, one of the batteries on the scooter had exploded and broke out into a fire.  Thankfully, Mr. Cassidy's assistant managed to assist him off before the fire consumed the entire scooter, as seen in the photo above.

Mr. Cassidy has since been given a replacement scooter by a friend.  The thing that should be taken away from this story is that any issue with your powerchair/scooter should be checked out as soon as possible and to make sure that it is properly serviced and maintained.  An image of what remains of the scooter is after the jump.

Monday, August 1, 2011

IntelliWheel AGS Provides Automatic Gearing For Manual Chairs

Engineering Grad Student, Scott Daigle, has developed a new set of manual wheelchair wheels dubbed the Intelliwheel AGS.  AGS stands for "Automatic Gearing System" which makes this one smart wheel. These wheels utilize sensors to analyze the various conditions and sorts out the best gear to be in so that the user is maximizing his pushing effort.  The best part is that this works without the user requiring any special training or change in their style: the user just pushes the wheels like a standard manual wheelchair and the wheels simply do the rest.  While designed to ease hill climbing, this system can also be used to minimize shoulder pain and strain.  Although these prototype wheels are still heavy at around 5 lbs. each, they can be of great source of relief to the 73% of manual chair users who currently developing shoulder problems due to use.

These wheels are, as previously mentioned, in the prototype phase and are currently undergoing heavy durability testing with a production prototype slated to be released around September of 2012 with consumer availability shortly after that.  Hit the jump for more images.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Honda Odyssey By BraunAbility

BraunAbility has begun to release information about their Entervan conversion for the current 2011 Honda Odyssey.  The picture above is a preproduction vehicle that was shown at the 2011 Abilities Expo in Los Angeles earlier in April.  The conversion incorporates many of the usual refinements that are consistent with BraunAbility's conversions; however, there is a step for the driver and front passenger that has been integrated into the side skirts to facilitate ingress and egress.

The Honda Odyssey conversion is interesting as this particular generation minivan was made purposely shorter (in height) in order to create a sleeker shape.  While doing this was meant to increase fuel economy, this could impede interior height even with the 10" lowered floor.  The Odyssey is known to have, by minivan standards, exceptionally good handling:  how does the conversion and the necessary suspension changes affect the performance of the vehicle?  Hopefully BraunAbility's conversion of this minivan has not altered the many good characteristics of this good vehicle. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie Watch: Johnny English: Reborn

Rowan Atkinson is reprising his role as bumbling spy Johnny English in the upcoming sequel "Johnny English:  Reborn".  The particular scene in the trailer that would be of particular interest is the scene where Johnny English is evading his enemies in a extremely fast powerchair by driving under a semi-truck.  Check out the trailer above and see the scene for yourself.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Egle Ugintaite's Concept For Walking Cane

The Aid personal health management device provides the possibility for users who love to be an active member in their community but have difficulty in leaving their homes due to the health issues. This cane-like unit has been designed to become useful ICT device in user’s daily lives where it features services that are integrated with social infrastructure.  More information and images after the jump.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Aaron Fotheringham Lands First Wheelchair Front Flip

There have been many posts on this blog about Aaron Fotheringham and his various stunts.  This time, during the Nitro Circus tour in New Zealand, he lands the first wheelchair front flip.  Check out the clip and see it for yourself.  The successful attempt is shown about a minute into the clip.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Luis de Matos' wi-Go Project Uses XBox Kinect Sensors

Luis de Mato has started a project called wi-Go which "seeks to unite the technological knowledge and liability in the construction of a common path toward integration and improved quality of life."  In this project, wi-Go is a robotic shopping cart that utilizes the sensor technology found on the Xbox Kinect that enables the user, such as the disabled, to carry objects without the need to push a cart.  Like similar projects before it (See this past entry), this cart will follow the user by locking onto the nearby user and anticipate the intended direction the user is going to go.  Pretty amazing technology.  Check out the clip above.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cha Inseon's Sliding Wheelchair With Integrated Sliding Seat

Sliding Wheelchair is ideal for people who are under special care and who find it difficult to move from their bed to the wheelchair. This wheelchair design features an adjustable height with a sliding seat that brings convenience to the chore of moving amid the chair and the bed. This design proves to be highly useful for the caregiver as well as the receiver of the care. Designed with universal design principles, the Sliding wheelchair boasts a moving seat. When the back handle is pushed downwards, the seat is lifted in order to meet the bed. Well, the seat slides sideways in order to maximize the comfort with which the move from wheelchair to the bed can be made hassle free.  More images after the jump.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Facundo Elias' Modern Wheelchair Concept

Many designers are trying to come up with unique next generation wheelchair concept in order to fall back on conventional materials and technology. The newest wheelchair design concept by Facundo Elias is worth appreciating. In terms of its overall design, the wheelchair features two large wheels for main support, one small wheel behind and a comfortable leg-resting pad. The seat offers real comfort, improving access for caregiver help and as well accommodates variousposters that are not provided via existing wheelchair designs. The backrest, seat pan as well as armrest designs are meant to address different postures including stable position for traveling at high speeds as well as prone to standing. The designer’s efforts are directed at grabbing attention to the requirements, which are not passably addressed in traditional wheelchairs.  More images after the jump.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Fools Day Prank: Part Man Part Car Style

While April 1st has passed by about a week ago, this clip shows a really good April Fools Day prank being performed.  Shout out to Pat for pulling this prank off!  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

G-Navi GPS System to Assist Blind and Guide Dogs

G-Navi is a concept mechanism for directing blind people that combines a harness for the guide dog and a headset that remains attached around the backside of the user’s neck. The system synchronizes with the existing GPS and sends out signal to the user when and which why he or she has to turn to reach a particular destination. Though the signal is for the dog’s harness that leans to the appropriate direction fromthe GPS, resulting turning the dog’s head in that way, the headset also is notified which conveys the signal to the user through vibration to ensure the dog is going to the right direction. Moreover, this innovative concept can be used to make SOS calls and bookmarking information about new places with simple button press. The required energy for the system is accumulated through two 30×100 mm solar panel attached on the guide dog’s vest.  More images after the jump.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

EAZ's Disabled Mobility Device Concept

EAZ Disabled Mobility Device concept eliminates the discomfort and disregard of riding a wheelchair that usually physically disabled person experiences. The innovative mobility device actually is a combination of a wheelchair and a walker that revolutionizes the mobility solution of moderately disabled people. Not only disabled person, even the old community can stylishly rely on this concept as their personal transportation solution. This two wheeled mobility device features a self balancing mechanism where users can travel both on a standing and seating configuration which will give users the freedom of moving around.  More pics after the jump.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leveraged Freedom Chair

What is the problem with current wheelchairs? They are not versatile enough for developing countries' unpaved roads, steep hillsides and generally handicap unfriendly buildings. Enter the Leveraged Freedom Chair, a more powerful wheelchair controlled by levers that moves like a mountain bike.  More information after the jump.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

UK Classifies Tankchair As A Tank

Jim Starrs, a former landscaper from the UK, is the proud owner of a Tankchair, a contraption that has been mentioned before. The interesting situation about Jim and his Tankchair is that he has been banned by the local authorities from using it.  More info after the jump.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ferrari Mobility Scooter

Reg Skelton, a retired council worker from the UK, has dressed up his TGA Vita scooter with some of the livery of his favorite car and race team in the world:  Ferrari.  With the Prancing Horse emblems, stylish wheels that recall some of their roadcars, and pneumatic tires, these subtle modifications bring a sense of style that many people would be more than happy to have on their own scooters and wheelchairs.  I just wonder if it comes it Rossa Corsa. More pics after the jump.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Induction Charging Should Come On Powerchairs Too

Do you ever forget to charge your cellphone at the end of the day?  How about your powerchair?  I am sure everyone has had a incident where you forgot to plug in that much-needed device the night before.  Would it not be nice to figure out a way to just simply charge your device without the need to plug it into the wall?  This is where induction charging comes in to solve that issue.  More information after the jump.