You can have a tailored suit made, bespoke curtains and covers made, even your new car can be tailored to suit your needs, so it seems strange that wheelchairs (to a certain extent) are off the shelf items not ideally designed with the individual in mind.
Wheelchairs are meant to improve the lives of those with limited mobility yet they are not truly bespoke items. That is until now. A British Industrial Design Agency called Layer aims to challenge the norm with the introduction of their partially 3D printed wheelchair aptly named GO.
London based Layer, founded by Benjamin Hubert are known in the design world for wearables, smart domestic appliances and other consumables. They award winning designs have brought about illustrious collaborations with partners such as Braun, BMW, and Oral-B. In 2016 Layer moved forward to tackle a new market, which is in desperate need of more human focused projects, by introducing a new division named LayerLab; their R&D team aimed at ‘improving life through technology’.
This new take on the wheelchair, the GO, is their first product following two years of research. After holding extensive interviews with wheelchair users, and medical professionals (!!?) with the objective being to learn more about what was needed to improve a wheelchair users everyday life in order to “create a more human-centred vehicle” they came up with the GO.
The end product is a futuristic looking, hopefully lightweight but strong, airy wheelchair. Something I am sure Professor Charles Xavier would be proud to wheel around in! Each design is to be truly bespoke, taking in to consideration the person’s disability, body shape, height, weight, lifestyle requirements and any other individual requests. You are also to be involved in the design process, using the GO app to personalise your wheelchair but only to a limited degree. Sounds expensive!
Hopefully this means more practical, stylish and truly bespoke wheelchairs will begin to appear on the market, something this blogger feels is long overdue. If they can also bring the price down in the process through 3D printing, then this really will revolutionise the goal of providing independence to those who rely on a wheelchair to get around daily.