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!