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Now A Smart Wheelchair

A wheelchair that's hard to tip over.

STINCT

We all hope that we will never be confined to a wheelchair, but if it becomes necessary it would be great to have a wheelchair as reported below. The only inhibiting factor might be the cost.


A Scottish designer has won £753,000 to fund the manufacture of his innovative smart-wheelchair.

Andrew Slorance, who uses a wheelchair himself, won the Toyota-run global Mobility Unlimited Challenge.

Inventors were invited to submit smart technologies to improve the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis.

The Phoenix I uses smart sensors to detect if the user is leaning forward or backwards and adjusts its centre of gravity to prevent tipping or falling.

IMAGE COPYRIGHTPHOENIX INSTINCT

Phoenix Instinct chief executive Mr Slorance said winning was "out of this world... incredible".

And he was "thrilled to be leading the smart-wheelchair revolution".

Previously having to use a wheelchair he describes as "25kg of steel", he felt "devastated" and "judged as disabled" when he had to use it.

IMAGE COPYRIGHTANDREW SLORANCE

Mr Slorance started using a wheelchair 37 years ago. "Since then, nothing has really happened in wheelchairs," he said.

"They've made them smaller or more compact, but the technology hasn't changed for nearly four decades."

The team of five at Phoenix Instinct (his company) used a "mammoth" amount of 3D printing to perfect the winning design, an ultra-lightweight manual wheelchair made from carbon fibre.

"You 3D print it, hold it and look at it," Mr Slorance said..You can sit in it and if it doesn't feel right, you print another one. Then, you make mould tools. We can fine-tune and tweak it."

The company, based in Forres, Moray, will produce the Phoenix I in-house to keep it cost-effective.

The aim is for it to cost £4,000-£5,000 and be on the market within two years.

"It's still a lot of money for a wheelchair," Mr Slorance said, "But for what it can do compared with the other brands that are still using 1980s technology, I think it's a good buy."

(My thanks to bbc.com for the story)


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