A New Zealand Man is Working on a Hands-Free Wheelchair

Steering a wheelchair while while carrying objects is a challenge that any wheelchair-user knows all too well. When a person needs his or her hands to hold something while simultaneously steering where the chair is going, it requires a bit of jostling back and forth.

Not surprisingly, it can sometimes become a bit frustrating.

Over the years, wheelchair users have employed quite a few tactics to keep their hands free in order to steer their chairs. Some people use baskets or bags that connect to their wheelchair, others have learned to balance objects on their laps. Although both methods get the job done, neither option is an optimal solution to the problem.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a wheelchair just turned the way that a person wanted it to, no hands required?

That’s precisely what a New Zealand man is trying to accomplish with his new wheelchair design.

He Calls the Wheelchair the OGO

Designed and built by inventor Kevin Halsall, the OGO is a personal mobility device that could fully revolutionize the electric wheelchair industry. Described by Halsall as a device that will “introduce a new era in personal transportation and freedom of movement for maximum independence,” the OGO features a hands-free control system that blends new technology with established control designs.

And it All Started with the Segway

Even if you are one of the people who laughs at the inherent awkwardness of Segways and their drivers, you can’t deny that they are an incredibly innovative method of transportation.

Halsall recognized the unique motor controls being employed in the Segway, and set out to take them a step further with the OGO. After buying and disassembling a Segway of his own, he designed and built the prototype chair that is he still perfecting today.

How the Chair Works

The chair takes direction from the rider by sensing their movements. A person sitting in the chair can slightly lean forward to set the chair in motion. Leaning backward sets the chair into reverse. To turn, riders lean to either side, similar to steering a bike, except that no handlebars are necessary. It’s a chair with technology that could free up the hands of wheelchair-users permanently.

Although the OGO isn’t ready to be released to the public, it is still a huge step in the right direction and could make life easier for wheelchair-users. Much like handicap vans, the OGO could transform the lives of people with disabilities.

Take a look at the OGO in action.

What do you think of this new technology? Let us know in the comments below.

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