As a former swimmer, this device makes me really excited. It is the Seatrac, an amazing one-of-a-kind of device that helps people with leg mobility disabilities enter the ocean without assistance. I’ve seen lifts on docks helping people with disabilities get into the water before, but I’ve never seen anything like this.
This device was invented by Ignatios Fotiou, a postgraduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics at the University of Patras. He got the idea after meeting a paraplegic by the name of Gerasimos Fessian who desperately wanted to find a way to get into the water by himself. The two put their minds together and created what is essentially a seat on a track, that begins on land and glides the chair into the sea.
Sounds like a pretty awesome idea, right? The wheelchair-user transfers out of his or her wheelchair while on land and gets into the Seatrac. The seat then travels along a 20 m track into the water. Also since this device is powered by solar panels, it can operate 30 times a day on solar power alone. You gotta love the sun to be had in Greece in order for 30 uses a day to be a possibility. And it’s as if it doesn’t coastline at all.
What it was first made as well, the team behind it created a 3 minute video of it called “Outside the Walls,” sharing its story. And the video made it into the top ten semi-finalists in a competition launched by Vimeo.com. Watch the video here
After they installed the Seatrac in 2008 at a small beach in Alepochori, it’s gone on to be installed at 10 other beaches in Greece. It also been patented by European and U.S. patent laws. The device costs $40,000 though, which is a real bummer considering the fact that it doesn’t run on electricity and only on solar panels.
Unfortunately however, users of the device have run into some problems over the years; namely, vandalism. Teenagers are stealing the solar panels and using the Seatrac as something to goof off on. Also, beachgoers often block the path to the device.
The main problem right now is that Greece is experiencing a huge lack of government money, i.e., they’re completely broke. Fixing the Seatracs isn’t exactly on their agenda, even if it is an amazing device. People who do use the device however have tried to create pathways to make it easier to get to these devices by using wooden planks.
All I know is that the Seatrac is one heck of an invention. I’m actually shocked it hasn’t crossed the ocean to the United States yet. This would be so great for so many beaches. Hopefully, someone out there will see this blog and try to bring the Seatrac stateside. If they do, I will be planning entire vacation around town, whichever town it ends up being.
Have you gone to Greece and used the Seatrac?