Just lean to roll ‘ Seg­way’ chair

No hands needed to roll wheels

The Witness - Wheels - - INNOVATION -

A NEW Zealand de­signer is re­vamp­ing the tra­di­tional wheel­chair de­sign with a new model that frees the arms of the user.

In­stead of us­ing the hands to cre­ate move­ment, the user moves his or her up­per body to di­rect the two wheels.

Kevin Hal­sall was in­spired to de­velop Ogo af­ter notic­ing a friend’s dif­fi­cul­ties with a tra­di­tional wheel­chair, and de­cid­ing that things could be bet­ter.

Hal­sall has been ex­per­i­ment­ing with var­i­ous de­signs for a few years now, and has ar­rived at Ogo with its con­trol sys­tem based on a mov­ing seat. If the rider leans for­ward, the chair moves for­ward. When they lean back, the wheel­chair re­verses. To switch di­rec­tion, they can lean to the side — if mov­ing up a flight of stairs is a pri­or­ity, the Topchair- S may be the an­swer.

Be­sides be­ing dy­namic and user- friendly, the de­signer says that Ogo stim­u­lates up­per body mo­bil­ity and in­creases core mus­cle strength be­cause the body be­comes part of the ma­chine, which, in its turn, al­most be­comes an ex­ten­sion of the user’s body.

The rider also has the op­tion to op­er­ate the wheel­chair in a dif­fer­ent way, though, as Ogo fea­tures a thumb- con­trolled joy­stick that can be in­stalled on ei­ther side.

Hal­sall is now fundrais­ing on Indiegogo to de­velop five pro­to­types to cater for the more spe­cific needs of vary­ing lev­els of dis­abil­ity. He con­cluded he should cre­ate sev­eral mod­els while test- ing the ini­tial de­sign with help from para­plegics, quadriplegics, quad am­putees and oth­ers.

He says re­sponse has been in­vari­ably pos­i­tive, but the Ogo de­sign so far has been for peo­ple with lower- level spinal in­juries only.

The five pro­to­types will fea­ture push- but­ton con­trols to start up and power down the ma­chine, and also shut it down au­to­mat­i­cally if the rider gets off the seat, the de­sign of which will also be im­proved. The pro­to­types will be avail­able for test­ing across New Zealand’s main cities.

A pledge of $ 1 000 ( R15 500) will get sup­port­ers an Ogo of their own, with de­liv­ery es­ti­mated for Septem­ber 2017 if all goes ac­cord­ing to plan.


New Zealand de­signer Kevin Hal­sall is rais­ing funds for a self- bal­anc­ing wheel­chair that can also climb stairs.

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