13 May 2008
An interesting new project came my way recently; a folding wheel - the Crossbreed - which is being developed by Duncan Fitzsimons at InnovationRCA, a product incubator unit at the Royal College of Art in London.
Initially designed for a bicycle, the Crossbreed wheel is now being adapted for wheelchairs, so that users can benefit from the easy manoeuvrability of large wheels with an integrated push rim, combined with the practicality of being able to fold the chair into a small package for transport and storage.
A wheelchair fitted with folding wheels could even allow a whole new type of wheelchair to be designed: one that can fold up into a small package similar to a golf bag in shape and size. This wheelchair could be as high performance as any other, yet fold up small enough to fit into an overhead locker on an airplane, wheels and all!
First models of this wheel will be made from carbon fibre composite, to meet the weight and stiffness requirements of the most demanding wheelchair users and Duncan hopes that these can be supplied at a cost which is as close as possible to non-folding high performance wheels. Further down the line he plans for a range of models to be made available for different budgets and performance needs.
You can find out more on the designer's website
What do you think about this idea? Is there room in the market for a wheelchair that folds much smaller than existing models? Or do you think that the current chairs with quick-release self-propelling wheels do a good enough job? Whatever your opinion, do please share it!
Piers Clough, an MBA student at Imperial College, has produced an online survey, to enable wheelchair users, carers and professionals to give their feedback. Click here to access it