The top shelf of items at the grocery store is a known nemesis of manual wheelchair users. So tantalizing close, yet so often out of reach. But what if there was a way to change that? What if there was an easy, safe way to boost your chair a foot off the ground? Meet Levaté. The brainchild of a team of students at the University of Oklahoma, Levaté aims to do for manual wheelchair users what seat elevators do for power chair users.
“We’ve seen how big a problem this is in the daily lives of wheelchair users and each time we talk to a different wheelchair user we see different ways they can use it,” he says. “It really motivates and inspires us to keep working on this.”
The idea is a lightweight lift that could be easily attached and detached to the bottom of a manual chair and would use compressed air to boost the user and user’s chair 12 inches. The team is currently working on a heavier aluminum version as proof of concept, but Levaté CEO and Co-Founder Dillon Carroll says they envision using lighter materials to keep the final weight of the actual product under 10 pounds.
Here is a video of the latest prototype:
To help better understand the needs of wheelchair users, the team has enlisted MaryBeth Davis, Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma 2014, as its community engagement manager. They are also looking to connect with more wheelchair users and for future beta testers. Carroll says they are working on patents and hope to partner with a company that will help them refine their design and make the actual product. He cited late-2015 as the target date to bring the lift to market.
In the meantime, Levaté is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign any day now. The website says it was expected to launch Oct. 3, but Carroll says to expect it later this month. He encouraged anyone interested in the project, or possibly testing it, to contact Levaté via its website.