Wheelchair technology is continuously improving, but there are many things that could still be added to make life easier for wheelchair users. Fortunately, this is a topic that is currently being addressed by a wide variety of innovators and scientists. With any luck, the following 10 technological ideas will become commonplace in the future.
1. Robotic Lift - There are several items available that make it easier for a caregiver to lift someone into a wheelchair, but this does not give people the ability to lift themselves. A built-in robotic lift that can safely pick them up off of the ground would allow wheelchair users to get into their chair with ease. As an added bonus, users would also be able to enjoy sitting at ground level so that they can easily interact with children and pets.
2. Insulin Pump - Some people who use wheelchairs may also have diabetes. Therefore, it would be beneficial for an insulin pump to be included as part of a wheelchair that is made specifically according to someone's need. Insulin pumps monitor the user's blood sugar levels and introduce insulin into their body whenever necessary. Attaching one of these pumps to a wheelchair would be more comfortable than having the box rest on the user's hip.
3. Robotic Extension - A prototype was invented in 2009 that would enable people to utilize robotics to alter the height and position of their wheelchair as needed so that they can grab tall items more easily. Sadly, this innovative concept was never produced on a wide scale, and non-robotic versions are not nearly as user-friendly. Therefore, this idea should be revisited so that people who use a wheelchair can take care of tasks such as grocery shopping without needing to rely on others.
4. Exercise Tracker - Staying in shape is vital, but finding a tracker that works appropriately with a wheelchair is next to impossible. To combat this issue, it would be highly useful if a tracker was specifically designed for wheelchairs. Health is an important part of everyone's wellness and trackers are helpful in improving overall health.
5. Built-in Cellphone - Many wheelchairs enable users to take control of a mobile device, but it could be even more helpful if a basic phone that is voice activated was built into the unit. After all, this would potentially save users money over a smartphone, and it would also give them an immediate lifeline during an emergency.
6. Blood Sugar Monitor - Diabetics who are not eligible for an insulin pump still need to be able to check their blood sugar regularly, but this could be very difficult with conventional methods. Instead, having a one touch device built into the wheelchair that can monitor blood sugar levels would greatly improve the type of daily care that these individuals receive.
7. Avoidance Technology - Developers came up with a concept in 2010 that would enable a wheelchair to automatically avoid obstacles, but this process still needs to be refined and made available to the general public. Not all wheelchair recipients can move their head freely. Many accidents happen because of this. Hitting little things can also become annoying. This would life easier for many in wheelchairs.
8. Sleep Monitor - Falling asleep in a wheelchair can be extremely uncomfortable. It is important for people to avoid spending the entire day and night in a wheelchair because this could cause damage to other parts of their body. A sleep monitor that is built into a wheelchair could check the user for signs of drowsiness and alert them that it is time to get in bed.
9. Built-in Ramp - One of the most common items on a wheelchair user's wish list is the inclusion of a built-in ramp. This ramp would be stored inside the wheelchair and could be deployed with the touch of a button. This would be incredible, you would never have to worry about ramps again.
10. Antioxidant Scanner - If you fail to get enough antioxidants in your diet, you will end up experiencing increased levels of cell destruction. Preventing this is important for your overall health, so it would make sense for an antioxidant scanner such as the one offered by Nu Skin to become embedded into a wheelchair design.
**Photo courtesy of Matiarobotics.com