People with restricted mobility have been relying on wheelchairs. The good old manual wheelchairs are now evolved and the age of electric wheelchairs has come. Although modern wheelchairs follow the basic design that was invented years ago, the electric wheelchairs are nothing like its predecessors and offer much more than mobility.
The wheelchairs have evolved and the futuristic electric wheelchairs are designed to cater to multiple needs of the user. Apart from the basic motive to use wheelchairs for mobility, electric wheelchairs aim to serve the user for a long period and offer customization according to the user’s needs. If the user is completely dependent on a wheelchair, he/she must need much more than mobility. Thus, designers have come up with ingenious designs to offer comfort, independence, and mobility to users.
According to Allied Market Research, the global electric wheelchair market is expected to hit $5.8 billion by 2027. This is increased investment and market growth is because of a rise in spinal deformities and injuries, surge in obese populations, and the emergence of technologically advanced products.
Introduction of electric wheelchairs
There have been many updates since the advent of wheelchairs. The newest innovation of power wheelchairs is the easiest and the most comfortable than ever. In addition, the recently launched power wheelchairs have intuitive controls and are more compact. Several electric wheelchairs offer a longer range and have an all-wheel-drive system for easy transportation.
Not long ago, a futuristic electric wheelchair design was introduced that come with transformable wheels. The wheels can convert into an oval shape to avoid obstacles. Moreover, due to this, these chairs could push upstairs and even over barriers without any hassle. In another design, the wheelchair had a smaller wheel in the front that added traction to climb stairs and avoid the biggest obstacle.
Tips for the beginners
If you have recently switched to an electric wheelchair after using a traditional wheelchair, it could be overwhelming to get used to. Here are some tips–some of which may seem obvious–to keep in mind. As you will be using wheelchairs, make sure wherever you travel, it must have a ramp and curb cutouts to help the chair. Moreover, double-check all the route and weather as it could get messy if the roads are muddy, or rough, and inhospitable.
While purchasing an electric chair, keep in mind how much weight and size it should have. If the size is too large, it won’t fit in the room. The simplest option is to look for a comfortable, lightweight chair and add required upgrades to it.
Latest advancements in electronic wheelchairs industry
- LUCI with sensor fusion technology
LUCI recently announced the release of its premier product with the same name. It has state-of-the-art software and hardware platform that utilizes sensor-fusion technology. This allows the power wheelchair to “see” its surroundings and offer riders security, stability, and cloud connectivity.
LUCI mounts on the power wheelchair to assist a user in avoid collision and drop-offs while controlling the chair. With the help of cloud-based capabilities, LUCI could observe and alert regarding low battery, on-route obstacles, and other vital updates. As per the company, LUCI can assist in secure health monitoring, collision avoidance, and can offer anti-tipping alert, drop-off protection, cloud-based communication, and alerts.
For any user, tipping over in a wheelchair is dangerous and may lead to hospitalizations. Thus, the company developed LUCI that minimizes wheelchair accidents. The technology combines infrared, stereovision, radar, and ultrasonic sensors to alert the user.
- Smoov One power-assist solution
Invacare and Alber recently launched their new solution, Smoov One solution to help manual wheelchair users. Smoove One is a front-mounted and portable power add-on and uses insights of wheelchair drivers and power assists to improve mobility and range while minimizing the user’s stress of managing the wheelchair.
The solution offers power assist along with user-friendly design and easily attached on-demand power. Smoov One offers a quiet and brushless drive that is a front-mounted ergonomic control unit, which is easy to operate. Moreover, it offers a single-drive wheel that has 359° swivel fork for quick turns.
- Invacare AVIVA FX Power Wheelchair
Invacare Corporation has launched its new electric wheelchair AVIVA FX Power Wheelchair that is said to set new standards in the electric wheelchair market. The wheelchair uses Rehab-redefining LiNX technology to set up the process along with several improved features. The technology makes the set-up procedures simple as it has pre-set programming parameters and live wireless programming. Moreover, the company launched an AVIVA FX power wheelchair that has an open stack design that helps to remove wheels, tires, and hubs. All the electronics are mounted at the front and connections and wiring are easy to access once the rear cover is removed.
- Drive Medical 4 Wheel
The Drive Medical 4 Wheel is carefully designed to offer the utmost comfort and stability to the user. It has 16.5-inch height and padded adjustable arm pads, which makes it comfortable even in rough conditions. It offers a top speed of 4.25 miles per hour and has ergonomic throttle control for freewheel navigation.
As power usage is the only concern for electric wheelchairs, this chair comes with a rechargeable battery pack and charger for its long life.
What would the future look like?
The world is driven by automation. The wheelchairs are not far from getting this update and the next big thing in the electric wheelchair industry is self-driving wheelchairs. Several visual sensors would be mounted on the chair that would detect obstacles automatically and all the users would have to do is enter the desired locations and the rest would be taken care of by the chair.
The self-driving electric wheelchair would be the best choice for all those with upper body movement limitations. Although it would take some time for users to get acquainted with chairs, the technology would open new doors as it would allow hands-free travel.
Another opportunity is brain activated electronic wheelchair, designed especially for paralyzed people. The users would have to use a special headset and their brain signals are transferred through a smartphone app to move the chair. This way, users would have to think about the movie forward for the wheelchair to work. Currently, market players are working on developing a prototype for such a chair.
There are several opportunities in the electric wheelchair industry. Every new idea sparks another new invention and helps people with disabilities to find greater levels of mobility and the ability to explore. Now only time will tell which wheelchair would rule the future.