The 65 million people worldwide who are confined to wheelchairs are extremely restricted by current wheelchair designs, even in environments specially designed for them. They live in an almost permanent sitting position without the ability to act in every day’s environment or to use tools that most people take for granted.
Wheelchairs that allow people with functional disabilities to stand are the fastest growing segment in the industry. Advantages to the user include more autonomy, enhanced social interactions and a series of health benefits that currently are provided exclusively by physiotherapists.
Most wheelchairs that allow the user to stand are very expensive, slow and heavy. They also share the challenges of standard wheelchairs, requiring smooth floors.
We have taken a novel approach to wheelchair design: the laddroller (ladder + roller) is a hybrid of an exoskeleton with a powered wheelchair and is the only device that elevates the user by the motion of the wheels alone.
Our design supports the user at any point in the range between the sitting and standing positions, without additional complicated mechanisms and operates easily from any position.
The laddroller wheelchair provides full mobility in real world environments including those with curbs, gaps and rough terrain. It can be transported in the trunk of a car and can be operated even with the batteries drained as a manual one.
Laddroller is priced at about half the price of current standing wheelchairs. We expect to achieve regulatory approval in Europe in 2017 and in the US (via a 510K) in 2019.
We plan to market our wheelchair through distributors to hospitals and rehab clinics. We expect to raise our profile significantly when a paralympic athlete will participate with laddroller at the Cybathlon race organized by the ETH Zurich, in October 2016.