November 22, 2014 by Liat
The mountain bike of wheelchairs.
Delivered by Camila Figueroa and Joana Henriques Correia
WHEN and WHO
It was designed by Amos Winter, with Kevin Young’s project leader for the organization Global Research Innovation and Technology (GRIT) & Continuum. The first idea of the project took place in Boston MA, between 2005 and 2007, but really took place in 2008. Since then, the LFC has had many prototyping in developing countries and is slated to go into production from 2011.
People with disabilities in rough regions aren’t able to move beyond the pavement due to its irregularity. The pavement itself is a challenge, with potholes, or uneven cuts. Getting out and about, on and off road, and participating in the community is important for everyone.
Regular wheelchairs were designed for easy terrains like roads or hospitals. Thereby, it gets really difficult to use one of these chairs on rough terrain of developing countries.
Instead of pushing on the wheels like a normal wheelchair, Leveraged Freedom Wheelchair riders just need to push on levers, which mechanically are more efficient. In fact, the ergonomics of the product allows to have a more natural and easy movement.
Riders change their speed easily sliding their hands up and down the levers. By grabbing down on the levers, they get high speed ( almost 80% faster than the common wheelchair). Grabbing higher on the levers, they get a low speed, allowing riders to get trough obstacles quite easily (50% more efficiently than a regular wheelchair). Indoors, the levers can be taken off, so then can be used as a regular chair.
ABOUT the DESIGN Process
To get to know better each need and feedbacks of the target users, designers of the process tested the LFC on three different continents. The goal was collecting feedbacks from LFC riders in Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam, which are countries that were carefully chosen for its properties.
The company engaged for this process stakeholders, wheelchairs riders, manufacturers and distributors in each country, and at every step of the design process.
It is important to notice than a personal arrangement is done for every person using it, and it was designed to be easily repaired locally, by using easy and available tools.
Since 2008 till 2013, the chair has been passing trough many changes, and prototypes were tested directly on the people concerned.
By now, the chair is being delivered on a personal demand, and GRIT is now working with aid organizations to reach easily who would need the LFC.
WHY IT INSPIRES ME
Thanks to this innovative intervention, people in developing countries (who had to do long distances every day), are being given the opportunity to reach education. Thereby, their independence is increased and it opens a door to an easiest life.