This morning, Christies announced that it would be auctioning off 22 items from the life and work of renowned theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, who passed away earlier this year. Among the items up for auction will be one of Professor Hawking’s earlier motorised wheelchairs, which he relied on when his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis left him almost completely paralysed. It’s an iconic piece that will hopefully end up in a museum, not a private collection.
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The convenience of never having to recharge a manually-powered wheelchair is often outweighed by the fact that riders must use both arms to steer it. Carrying something like a smartphone at the same time is a big challenge, so a Swiss design student was inspired to design a better wheelchair that allows riders to steer by leaning their bodies.
Before the show floor opens to throngs of tech enthusiasts, and before big companies like Sony, Samsung, and LG reveal their latest and greatest to the world, we get a sneak peek at the trends shaping CES 2018 at an event called CES: Unveiled. And millennials be damned, because this year, the best gadgets could be the ones designed for seniors.
Most electric wheelchairs and mobility devices can easily shrug off a little rain, but on the whole, they really don't mix well with water. So engineers at the University of Pittsburgh designed a powered wheelchair that runs on compressed air, allowing those with limited mobility to safely enjoy a day at the water park. Every now and then, good things really do happen in this world.
Remember the brilliant Star Wars Snowspeeder costume that Ryan Scott Miller built around his son's wheelchair last Halloween? He's already managed to top himself a year later by now turning Jeremy's wheelchair into a miniature version of the Ghostbusters' Ecto-1. This kid is getting so many lollies.
When the RoChair first appeared back in 2011, the wheelchair used an unorthodox centre-mounted drive lever, operated with a rowing motion, to propel it forwards. Four years later the RoChair has been completely redesigned to look more traditional, until you see someone operating it.
Before the Segway, inventor Dean Kamen created a standing, self-balancing wheelchair called the iBot that gave users more independence and freedom. It also cost $US25,000 ($32,440), and is no longer available. But a new all-mechanical alternative might provide the same improvements in quality of life for users, at a much cheaper price point.
The first time New Zealand inventor Kevin Halsall stepped on a Segway, he saw the potential of using the technology to build a wheelchair that could be controlled without a joystick or requiring the rider to use their hands at all. So he bought one, stripped it down, and turned it into the Ogo.
Technology has been making wheelchairs more convenient and easier to use, but this crazy amazing model that actually scales staircases is a metaphorical mic drop.
The world's already got its fair share of tank-treaded wheelchairs that can traverse any terrain, but a personal mobility device that looks as fun to ride as an ATV? There's definitely still room for the HexHog in our hearts, on our hilly fields and mountains, and even in shallow water, apparently.
At just 17kg -- including its electric motor and rechargeable battery -- the creators of the Zinger claim their electric wheelchair is the world's lightest. It even folds flat just like a lawn chair, and while you won't want to have to carry it on a long walk to the beach, it's easier to toss into the trunk of a car than most non-powered wheelchairs.
The Whill started life as an innovative device designed to give manual wheelchairs an electric motor so they were self-propelled. But since its inception, the Whill has evolved into a full-fledged personal mobility device with a unique control mechanism and even smartphone connectivity.
What's the difference between using a wheelchair and wearing glasses? Both take advantage of technology to adjust or enhance human capabilities. Yet we tend to consider people in wheelchairs as disabled, and people with glasses as, well, relatively normal. It's all about perspective.
Getting around in a wheelchair is difficult enough, even when one still has use of their upper extremities. Quadriplegics face an exponentially more difficult challenge: controlling the wheelchair by sucking or blowing air through a straw. But this new powered wheelchair from the Georgia Institute of Technology will respond to a flick of the user's tongue.
The original WHILL was a clamp on device designed to power manual wheelchairs lacking an electric motor. Unfortunately, it turns out it will never see the light of day, but the design and technology behind that original concept have been repurposed for the futuristic Whill Type-A electric wheelchair that's actually now up for pre-order with an expected delivery of early next year.
It might look like a one-seat sofa capable of traversing almost any terrain on the planet, but this compact electric vehicle is actually designed to be a highly manoeuvrable and comfortable alternative to a traditional wheelchair. You won't ever see it cruising down footpaths, but one day they might be crawling all over hospitals.
Not surprisingly, those fancy electric wheelchairs that let people with limited mobility cruise about with the push of a joystick are incredibly expensive. So adapting technology that powers modern electric bikes, Yamaha's JWX-2 electric assist gives that same mobility for less -- and can be retrofitted to almost any manually driven wheelchair.