With today’s technology, almost anything seems possible. Some of the latest? A new standing wheelchair prototype has been created and it is about to potentially change the lives of people with mobility issues.
Having realized that current stand-up electric wheelchairs can cost $20,000 - $25,000, three geniuses decided to design and build their own, less expensive model. They wanted to enable wheelchair users to own a high tech device without it costing them a fortune.
The innovative trio:
- Allan Jeffs – An accountant, he was the first to have a go at the project. His wife, a physiotherapist, says that the standing wheelchair will greatly benefit its users since standing up is very good for enhanced blood circulation.
- Kim Long – A design engineer by profession, he consulted with Mr. Jeffs in the project. Long wanted to be part of the project after watching his own mother trying to get around their house and wanting to bring a greater sense of normalcy to her life.
- Dave Howes – A mechanical engineer, Howes worked with Jeffs and Long in creating the prototype.
The trio have now been together for three years, working passionately on their project. According to the creators themselves, the technology they used on their prototype is nothing like the technology applied on the wheelchairs that are currently available in the market.
The stand-up wheelchair, christened Erik, has a unique, modular design which makes it less expensive. It can also be produced and/or manufactured at a price lower than of similar wheelchairs in the market.
Erik can move from a seated position to upright or standing by simply pushing a button. Users can move around easily in both positions.
Users can also operate Erik indoors and out. Even on a rougher terrain, users can maneuver around with relative ease. However, since Erik is still a prototype and there are still a lot of adjustments and improvements to be done, it cannot be operated over soft outdoor surfaces at this time (think mud).
The trio is optimistic about their project. They believe that their standing wheelchair will radically change wheelchair design in the future, bringing more freedom to differently-abled individuals without being so prohibitively expensive.