When researching for articles on stylish mobility wheelchairs we find out that there are so many stylish wheelchair concepts which just never seem to get made. It’s a problem we highlighted in our post a few months ago on trendy wheelchairs. There are loads of designers out there coming up with amazing and innovative new ideas to make wheelchairs more stylish, comfortable and efficient. But they just never seem to get beyond the early stages of design.
We’ve put together a list of some of the best design ideas we’ve seen, to take wheelchair design to the next level. Based on how many different concepts people have come up with it seems like we must be close to a real breakthrough in wheelchair design. OK, we’re not taking about reinventing the wheel here. Just the wheelchair.
What do you think of these designs and which would you most like to see being put through into production? Visit our Facebook page to vote for which you think is the best concept.
The Hubless Wheelchair is a very minimalistic design which looks good and is lighter and less effort than a traditional wheelchair. Or at least it would be if it physically existed beyond the concept stage. The idea behind it is to strip down the wheelchair making it seem sleeker and less cluttered. Of course this can only be done with the innovative hubless wheels. The wheel’s pushrim, extends past the tire and connects to a rotating center-free rim, while the outer rim (tire and pushrim) bear down on a non-rotating inner rim that is directly attached to the frame.
What does that all mean? Basically, that you get a more stylish wheelchair that allows you to move more freely. In theory.
This is a design for an electric wheelchair with a lifting mechanism that allows the user to go from their seat into an upright position. Its designer obviously came up with a lot of grand ideas for this wheelchair including making it all out of Grade 5 Titanium and including a seat manufactured with a digital technique called Selective Laser Sintering, enabling users to mold the seat area according to their body shape. Of course, none of this has every actually been produced yet and it all sounds quite complicated and expensive. Perhaps a model with some, but not all, of these ideas would be a more practical starting point?
The Urban Wheelchair is designed to make life in a city as easy as possible for wheelchair users. It’s also another hubless wheelchair but does it look as good as the hubless wheelchair above?
The Nimbl Carbon Fibre Wheelchair is/was intended for use within the home only (maybe that’s part of the reason it has never been on sale). It’s a motorised hubless chair with a magnetic controller which can be swapped from the left to the right arm of the chair. The short wheelbase makes the chair easier to maneuver around the home. The chair can also rotate around it’s wheels, be raised up if needed and reclines. It’s like a stylish lazy boy chair on wheels.
It does look more like a piece of designer furniture than a wheelchair. In hindsight, the lazy boy comment was a little bit unfair; it’s far more trendy than that would suggest. It appears somehow otherworldly – a characteristic enhanced by the fact that the only images of it are computer graphics. But it also looks and sounds pretty expensive to make, especially for something which can’t be taken outside.
You’ll notice from the picture below that the Mobi Electric Folding Wheelchair has gone beyond the graphic image stage of design and a physical prototype exists (and looks rather cool). You’ll also probably guess from its name that this chair can be folded up to a very conveniently small size for transportation.
The electronic mechanism has been designed to encourage, or – depending on your perspective – require, more user involvement than a normal electric wheelchair. Rather than the chair being controlled by a joystick or control panel, the mechanism just adds power to that generated by the user pushing on the handrails. There is also Segway style technology to keep the chair stable and balanced despite only having two wheels.
This wheelchair looks really good and being able to fold it up would be pretty convenient. Still, they haven’t hit the marketplace yet and there aren’t many positive signs that that is going to change anytime soon.
Amos Winter’s Leveraged Freedom Wheelchair idea has been helping people in the third world for a while now. The chairs have levers that can be operated, like gears on a bike, to make the wheelchair move with more power and speed, over longer and more difficult terrain. They’ve helped change the lives of many people who need wheelchairs in rural parts of developing countries. Check out this video of Amos Winter (who has an amazing name) talking about the work they’ve done.
The news now is that the idea behind these wheelchairs is being converted into a new chair, that will be more appealing to people in first world countries. The new design isn’t on sale but features the same lever based system as the third world model. It’s also more lightweight and style conscious than the original model to attract the Western market. It is perhaps the nearest of all these wheelchairs to be available to purchase but is still very much not available to buy right now. If they do go on sale, each chair sold will fund three wheelchairs for people in the third world.
We featured this design before in our Wheelchairs of the Future post last year. To recap, it’s designed by Caspar Schmitz and the wheels are made of an elastic plastic making them more flexible than normal wheelchair wheels. When an obstacle is encountered the wheels convert into ellipsoid shapes which make it possible to get over it. Because of the increased flexibility of the transformable wheels, it is possible to be pushed upstairs and over barriers.
It’s a clever concept and the design is really cool and futuristic too.
What do you think of these wheelchair designs? Which one would you most like to see made a reality? We think that they’re all really interesting, stylish and creative but which is the best one? Visit our Facebook page to vote for which you think is the best concept.