The Center for Discovery, a magnet institution located in upstate New York for people with disabilities, is a groundbreaking community focused on education, food and farming, science and research, health and wellness, and living life vibrantly. In 2016 we were contacted by the IndieGo team, an innovative group of teachers and occupational therapists at TCFD who had engineered a device to lift and drive a manual wheelchair, with the vision of making electronic mobility more accessible. With the bar set high not only in terms of the end goal, but in the design requirements—must fit most wheelchairs, must weigh less than 35 lbs—we signed up to design a series of iterations to get them to the best possible solution.
Redesign the existing IndieGo chassis to meet a set of design guidelines that will allow the device to be used in an open source, shared economy.
Collaborating with the IndieGo team, we designed three separate iterations of the device, taking key learnings from each turn.
A battery powered mobility solution that allows users of all wheelchair sizes to roll onto, lock in, and drive effortlessly.
Limited mobility has a profound effect on the spirit. Power wheelchairs are critical in providing independence to people with mobility limitations—but are expensive and often not covered by insurance, leaving many users limited to manual wheelchairs. The IndieGo team, a very technically inclusive group, won a $1.125M grant from Google.org to develop an open source power add-on initially built at the Center’s on-site maker lab, that can quickly convert any manual wheelchair into a power chair.
We were profoundly inspired by this work from the beginning and teamed up with the IndieGo team to hit their product guidelines.
- Weigh less than 35lbs
- Utilize components that are easily sourced in order to keep the cost down
- Expand from a closed position that fits a 16” wheelchair to 26” to fit the largest size chairs before turning bariatric
- Support use by an individual user up to 250lbs
- Have a maximum height of 6.5”
- Support the use of Golden Motors brushless drive system
- Support any wheel size from 10” to 26”
- Allow an individual with usage of upper body and push rims to load/ unload without the need for a caregiver
Over the course of 8 months, we designed and prototyped three separate iterations of the IndieGo unit, learning and pivoting with each design. The final device aesthetic has hints of automotive design, so users can feel good while using the device.
In addition to designing the device, we evolved existing branding and designed the packaging, the unboxing experience and supporting collateral like the user manual.
Heading into first run manufacturing the fall of 2017, the product will officially launch early 2018.