Innovation deal for folding wheels on wheelchairs
The folding wheel uses a patent-pending technology that enables full-size wheels on wheelchairs to be folded down. The agreement with Maddak paves the way for the commercial production of these revolutionary wheels which will significantly improve the everyday experience of manual wheelchair users, making their wheelchairs more easily stored and handled, both at home and when getting in and out of cars and other forms of transport.
Maddak is the largest manufacturer in the United States of Aids for Daily Living. It is committed to manufacturing products that enable people to remain active and maximize their independence, and has put in place a dynamic development plan for the wheel.
Duncan Fitzsimons first developed the design for a full-sized folding cycle wheel whilst studying for his MA in Industrial Design Engineering at the RCA. His project was picked up as a Selected Work by InnovationRCA and he was awarded a James Dyson Innovation Fellowship shortly afterwards.
The project to develop and test the foldable wheels has received considerable encouragement and feedback from wheelchair users around the world as well as many awards and funding assistance from the James Dyson Foundation, the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, the Wingate Foundation and proof of concept funding from the London Development Agency's Pre Commercialisation Fund.
Professor Jeremy Myerson, Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, which has supported the project, comments: 'This is an exciting moment for disabled people whose mobility has been restricted by large, cumbersome wheelchairs that cannot be folded down small enough to fit into cars or on planes. User feedback has been loud and clear that this type of innovation is much needed. The deal with Maddak paves the way for a product that will improve people's lives.'
InnovationRCA will be incubating similar ground-breaking projects in the Royal College of Art's new High Velocity Incubator in the Dyson Building, Battersea, London, which opens in 2012.