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The Hands-Free Wheelchair

(Photo: Joel Maxwell)

This is the Ogo, an electric wheelchair. What sets it apart from other wheelchairs is that it's not controlled with a joystick, buttons, or pedals. It's controlled with body direction, like a Segway. This means that users who lack hand movement ability can steer it.

Kevin Halsall, the inventor, built it for a friend, Marcus Thompson, who is a paraplegic. When Halsall used a Segway for the first time, he realized that its directional system offered a great option to people who use wheelchairs. Joel Maxwell writes in Stuff:

The moving seat made the acceleration and braking more responsive to movements from the rider's core muscles, he said.

His mate Thompson used the device to mow his lawns, and trialled it at his work as a teacher at Otaki College.

Halsall said the doing things like picking up items and moving round while holding them, and mowing lawns, sounded mundane to most people.

"But when you're in a wheelchair you just can't do it."

Thompson got a buzz out of mowing his lawns, Halsall said, because as a paraplegic he previously relied on others to do work like that.

-via Damn Geeky


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