The wheelchair has been pivotal in bringing mobility back to people who suffer from paralysis. That said, wheelchair technology hasn’t really evolved since the 1980s, so an update is long overdue.
Recently, a Scottish design firm Phoenix Instinct revealed a lightweight wheelchair made of carbon-fiber with wheels mounted on an adjustable axle. The axle is connected to sensors that can detect whether the user is leaning forward or backward and moves the axle position to adjust its center of gravity accordingly. By doing this, the wheelchair automatically minimizes the risk of falling backward while providing a stable ride for the user.
“Wheelchairs have a fixed center of gravity so the user either has an agile, unstable chair or a stable chair that is hard to push, or a chair that is neither very agile nor very stable,” said Andrew Slorance, founder of Phoenix Instinct. “The Phoenix i wheelchair has a smart center of gravity so the user gets the lightest agility in combination with stability. This has never been done before.”
Although the wheelchair is a serious upgrade from the standard wheelchairs of today, Phoenix Instinct plans to sell their smart wheelchair at a price comparable to conventional wheelchairs. The hope is that by keeping the price low, more people will rapidly adopt smart wheelchairs.