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Wheelchair Electric Drive Augmentation

Handicapped people, especially those that need a wheelchair to move freely around, encounter many problems in their everyday life. A wheelchair comes with certain limitations that can be frustrating for a handicapped person, limitations apart from the medical condition itself. Although a wheelchair is a better option than being incapacitated in a hospital bed, certain modifications could improve the quality of life for all those who suffer from a form of handicap that cripples the legs and one’s movement capabilities.

All those limitations could soon be resolved by a Japanese company named WHILL. The company first appeared in the year 2011 at Tokyo Motor Show and has made a good impression ever since, developing amazing prototypes.

Such a prototype is the WHILL augmentation device for wheelchairs. This device can be attached externally to an ordinary wheelchair and once installed, it offers electrically powered drive.

The design appears simple: two circular hubs are involved that are connected to a central bar. This central bar has extensions that go all the way to the wheels of a wheelchair. The power supply consists of a lithium-ion battery that turns an ordinary wheelchair into an electrically machine capable of many things in comparison with the traditional wheelchair.

In order to drive, the user only needs to push the crossbar, leaning over in the wanted direction. Once the augmentation is charged (in about two hours) it can be driven for almost 20 miles of distance with a top speed of 12 miles per hour.

Given that WHILL is still a prototype, certain information about this product is not yet available (regarding technology, possible sizes, price tag, etc), but when the product would be released on the market, everyone interested can decide if such an augmentation brings great benefits for handicapped people. Nevertheless, such an augmentation that further extends the use of a traditional wheelchair is certainly a brilliant idea and a great prospect for the future.

Source: popsci


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