It’s one of the most stale idioms in the book: “Don’t reinvent the wheel”. But that didn’t stop Gilad Wolf, the Israeli inventor who found that comfortably getting around in a conventional wheelchair was nearly impossible. Instead, Wolf set out to reinvent his wheelchair wheels.
Drawing from everything from farm equipment to the innovations at the Rad-BioMed Technology Accelerator in Tel Aviv, Wolf’s invention, called SoftWheel, is a more efficient and comfortable riding wheel.
The SoftWheel’s design features a rim that has three shock absorbing compression cylinders. This suspends the wheel’s hub while evenly distributing mass along the chair, giving the rider the ability to easily descend stairs and overcome bumps.
Unsurprisingly, the SoftWheel was found to work perfectly in other applications, too. Within minutes, they were able to hook their prototype up to a bike, which produced a visibly smoother and faster ride, as seen in this video.
If you want a pair they won’t come cheap — SoftWheel will go on sale at the end of this year for somewhere around $2000. That might seem hefty, but it’s a small price to pay if it reduces medical injuries caused by wheelchair vibrations. [SoftWheel via Wired]