Felix Lopde de Vega Carpio said some time ago that development means, above all, something better, not only something new. The harder modern technologies enter our reality, the closer are his words. One probably knows nothing about the hardship of moving in a wheelchair, until they are confronted in their life with such necessity. This reflection comes only when a solution, which has the chance to revolutionise the market, appears among SMART solutions. The one about which I’m going to write in a moment, definitely has a chance.
How was the GO wheelchair created?
It took more than two years for designers from British LAYER studio in cooperation with a global 3D print leader, Belgian MATERIALISE company, to create a prototype of an intelligent wheelchair. Thanks to the method of design thinking, they uncovered step by step all inconveniences faced by disabled people: lack of strength to move because of unnatural arm position, lack of possibility of exchange of wheels and their adjustment to the type of surface (unpaved, asphalt and slippery roads – e.g. in sports objects), abrasions and callused hands.
In the process of analysis there was applied a technology of mapping of the user’s biometrical parameters prepared digitally in 3D, as a consequence of which GO – a prototype of a wheelchair of new generation was adjusted to the degree of disability, physique, and weight, e.g. thanks to ergonomic, breathing seat. GO prototype is even half weight of its traditional version. Its particular elements are easily disassembled, which facilitates the transport of a wheelchair. Designers and contractors took care of the smallest details: gentle for hands, anti-slippery and, thanks to 3D print technology, durable gloves preventing abrasions, are also a part of the prototype.
Designer shape and modern colours are undoubtedly advantages which have the chance to mobilise disabled persons hidden in the shade of their vulnerability to increase their activity. The moment in which technology holds out its hand to disabled people is an application correlated with a prototype of the wheelchair. It enables people, who are the most interested in it, to take part in the design process through specification of optional elements, individual user parameters (e.g. colours) and making orders.
Disability in Smart City
It is necessary to consider in Smart City projects solutions and facilities supporting normal functioning of disabled people, mainly in the area of urban and communication infrastructure. The idea of 3D GO wheelchair shows that we can operatively and creatively react to them, listening to people’s problems and needs. There is also a question of reaction of the environment – in this case in two areas: pricing policy which for sure at the beginning will be much higher than the current price situation on the wheelchair market, at least until the beginning of the mass production, and public health service. A refund of 3D GO wheelchair seems logical, but it excludes arm and spine diseases. And after all, in the end they are also subject to the costs of reimbursed treatment. We will see what it will look like in practice. Undoubtedly, a key role will be played by fair education on the functioning of a human being within 10 years at a time of technological development. Soon
Smart City will become everyone’s lifestyle, that is why in this moment we should look at this aspect in the long-term perspective, and not sporadically.
For me Smart City is, above all, health, and productivity of the residents. I get impatient when I think about how long it will take to find an investor who will introduce a product to the market not only on a mass scale, but also bring it to the awareness of the masses and usage. I have my fingers crossed for this project. I will inform on its progress on a current basis.
Technologies of the future may work even today: before our very eyes, in our houses, in our everyday life.