We see lots of cars everyday, different brands, different designs, wide ranges of power delivery. We also see wheel chairs, but they all look the same, and actually they are all the same. Wheel chair design 20 years ago was the same as today. Maybe nobody bothered to design a better wheel chair, so some people from MIT tried their hands at it. The name of their new invention is ‘Freedom wheel chair’.
Freedom wheelchair is actually a class room project conducted by MIT in 2012. It is an attempt to reduce the effort of manually driving a wheel chair. People use their hand on the wheels to move wheel chairs, but in he case of a freedom wheel chair hands are applied on levers instead of wheels. Given below is a video how this new invention works.
Amoz Winter, a student from MIT, on his visit to Tanzania realized that the world needs better wheelchairs. As a trained machine designer he decided to do something. His experiences in Tanzania became the foundation of this wheel chair, they consider this like a mountain bike. All its moving parts are standard bicycle parts. When you push on the lever it propels you forward, it gives you a lot more leverage and easier to go over obstacles whether that be grass or sand or mud. This is a simple machine using off-the shelf parts and are very affordable for people. All the moving parts are standard bicycle parts. This machine is highly precise and offer high performance at the same time is affordable and easier to maintain.
As you can see there is nothing ‘revolutionary’ about this. They made a slight change to the old design to make a better product, with using levers the effort in driving this chair is far less compared to its former self. And also it is more hygienic as your hands won’t get dirty from the wheels.
I found this above video when I was searching in youtube for mechanical engineering project ideas. When I saw this video I instantly liked it, but I see something is lacking there. Do you see that the person has to lean forward for pushing the levers? I think that is pretty uncomfortable, this product offers many comforts but I think its ergonomics should have been better. Do you think you can improve that ergonomics factor? Then make this your next mechanical engineering project.