Since electric wheelchairs don’t run forever, users will often still rely on a manual version for getting around the house. But depending on their physical condition, switching between devices can be difficult. So the IWA, or Independent Wheelchair Assist, adds a temporary electric drive to any chair.
It provides the same long-distance mobility as an electric wheelchair, but without the inconvenience of having to switch back and forth between chairs. And while the IWA might look a lot like the Segway, it’s actually designed as a sort of miniature tow-truck. Users roll up to it and connect their wheelchair via a special bracket that lifts its front caster wheels off the ground. From there, they use the handlebars on the IWA to propel and steer the whole rig.
Now, even though the IWA’s creators have built a mockup of the device, it’s still far from being a consumer-ready product. For the moment it’s just a submission for the James Dyson Award. But in the past, many winning designs have gone on to become actual products. And if the IWA’s target price tag of around $US3000-$US4000 can be met, there’s a chance this could be a viable alternative to using multiple wheelchairs.