The common wheelchair isn’t a great design, but it is cheap and it gets the job done. It also causes problems for the users, and we don’t just mean it’s Dalek-like issues with stairs.
Because you need to shove yourself along by spinning the wheels with your hands, and heft your own weight up and over the wheels to get in and out, the upper body gets a beating. If only there was something that approached the efficiency of a bicycle.
The RoTrike might be the answer. The three-wheeler looks a lot like the Victorian bath-chair, with its two wheels below the rider and one out in front. That’s the trike part. The ro in the name comes from the propulsion method: the user rows the chair along by pushing and pulling the handlebar, which is also used for steering. And getting in and out is also easier thanks to the wheels being underneath the seat, rather than to the side.
Because the “stem” of the handlebar assembly can be adjusted up and down, you can gain more mechanical advantage – or pulling power – just by making it longer. You can also pick between gearing options depending on your strength, and there is an 8-speed internal-geared hub and disk-brakes.
The only problem with the 30-pound chair is the price: $3,800. This compares to around $150 for the standard folding chairs you see every day. Actually, there may be one other downside. All that upper-body exercise and you could end up looking like the Family Guy’s Joe Swanson. Available in April.
RoTrike [Rotamobility. Thanks, Michael!]
Source: Gadget Lab