NZ inventor develops Ogo hands-free electric wheelchair
Segway in itself hasn’t been as impressive a personal mobility device as Dean Kamen would have wanted it to be; nonetheless, it has been a source of inspiration for a whole bunch of new age personal transporters. Ogo, first of its kind, hands-free electric wheelchair is no different. Created by Otaki, New Zealand-based inventor Kevin Halsall, the Ogo is made from a rebuilt Segway. Aimed at improving mobility for the disabled, Ogo provides complete freedom of movement and independence for anyone riding it.
Halstall, a plastic products designer has hand-built the fiberglass wheelchair is with Segway for its guts. The wheelchair is entered its third and almost final prototype, and with few more tweaks and investor support or crowdfunding, the Ogo visions enter mass production. The current prototype of the wheelchair can run at a top speed of 20km/h.
The initial version of hands-free electric wheelchair was developed some four years ago. Halstall built it with a paraplegic friend, Marcus Thompson, in mind (who now rides it to Otaki College, where he is a teacher). The first version was a simple Segway with a bolt-on seat. After realizing the feasibility of a hands-free wheelchair that takes advantage of Segway’s gyroscopic stabilization and computer control system, Halstall purchased a $14,000 Segway, stripped it apart, and then rebuilt it with wider wheels to arrive at this really impressive wheelchair.
The Ogo wheelchair is electric powered, and unlike the Segway, which requires the operator to lean on the handlebar to steer it; the wheelchair has been made ultra responsive to be controlled by movement of the rider’s core muscles – leaning forward to accelerate, and leaning backwards to brake.
The hands-free wheelchair has been selected as one of the 10 finalist in the Innovate awards; winner to be announced towards end of August.