Concourse Technologies, designer and manufacturer of Smart Wheels has repurposed their innovative, wireless wheel design to help the disabled community.
Wheelchair users have had to choose between bulky powered chairs that require vehicle modifications for transportation, or light-weight manual chairs that require self-propulsion or another person to assist.
Forestville based Concourse Technology has developed light-weight, fully-integrated, powered smart wheels that replace standard wheels on a manual wheelchair. The wheels can be used manually, or easily switched over to power assistance when needed.
Concourse Technology CEO David MacKay said the concept evolved from his golf business, where they had been working on folding, self-powered golf buggies.
“Five years and ten thousand engineering hours later, we have got the smart wheels completed. The idea was always to have them expandable. We used golf as the test platform to get the technology right. Now we’ve got it very stable, we’re applying it to wheelchairs.”
Former Paralympian Lisa Edmonds, who won silver at the Sydney 2000 Games in wheelchair basketball, said the flexibility offered by the new wheels would be transformational for people in wheelchairs.
“Having the ability to switch from a manual chair to automatic gives you freedom. When you’re in a wheelchair, you want to be as independent as you can, and technology allows that.”
Mr MacKay said that raising funds proved hard in Australia, where investors are reluctant to wait years for a new product to be developed and released.
“We’re manufacturing the wheels in Sydney. That’s part of the reason we got support from the Federal Government. All the design, engineering, everything, has happened in Australia. We are keen to keep manufacturing here.
“The Accelerating Commercialisation grant gives massive recognition as well as funding. It opens doors. Developing products you need government support because investors aren’t there. It seems strange but the government is there for you when the private sector isn’t.
Northern Beaches MP, Jason Falinski said the smart wheels are a great example of Australian engineering and design expertise, and local production highlights our advanced manufacturing capability.
“The Government acknowledges the incredible innovation shown by business owners to find solutions through their products and help us on the road to a post-COVID recovery,” said Mr Falinski.
Sources: Northern Beaches Advocate