WHILL, the Sleek Lean-In-To-Go Wheelchair, Launching in the US

imagesMany people have tried to reinvent the wheelchair in the last 20 years. You have the revolutionary stair climbing wheelchair, the iBot, then you have all-terrain wheelchairs like the Tank Chair, a crazy huge wheelchair with tracks, helping wheelchair-users explore the world unimpeded.

But now there’s a new wheelchair available starting next year that’s changing the entire scene. Called the WHILL Type – A, this sleek wheelchair from Atsushi Mizushima (he’s a former designer who worked at Sony, Toyota and Olympus) has revolutionary lean-in technology, sensors and gyroscopes like an iBot, enabling it to read your movement and act accordingly.

I know, it sounds a bit strange, but imagine how you lean forward when you’re on a skateboard, or even a bicycle, as the forward motion continues and gets stronger. You feel like a more active participant, rather than a passive one, right? This is the same idea with the WHILL. Also, the fact that they’re bringing this lean-in ability to wheelchairs is groundbreaking. Their goal is to finally make wheelchairs cool for once and for all, and this is a great step.

I also love a quote that came from the founder of the WHILL Type – A, Atusushi Mizushima, “Imagine a car, bicycle, scooter, or skateboard, all devices that basically make you feel happy,” he says. “Only the wheelchair, as a mobility device, makes people feel uncomfortable. People’s perception of those devices are that they are limiting…In addition to the aesthetics, what we try to achieve is the feeling of driving a car, motorcycle, or skateboard.”

I am in love with this man.  I’m so glad someone is finally taking this on. The wheelchair has been seen as a negative thing for far too long. And you gotta love that this wheelchair is finally going to be available in the US starting in early 2014.  It’s not easy getting to this point. Just last year it debuted at a Tokyo tech show.

The WHILL Type-A also has a few other improvements as well.  It has better balance, a higher turning radius of 28 inches and it can clear terrain up to 3 inches in height.  Sounds pretty awesome. The only obvious drawback would be the white bar in front of you as you propel forward. This can however can be pushed back however when you’re at a table.

In interested, it’d be smart to be in your preorder in now. Each WHILL costs $6,100/each. The company is also promising a special upgrade to the chair if you are among the first orders. Helloooo leather heated seats.

Personally, I would love to try this device as a low quad. I love the idea of making a wheelchair finally look aesthetically pleasing, yet still providing all the functions you need.  So many mobility devices deserve this treatment. It will be shown at the Abilities Expo too, making it’s debut at the San Jose stop most recently.

Check it out: Preorder page for 2014 delivery of the WHILL

Would you try the WHILL Type-A?

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