An invention that helps wheelchair users carry items on their laps, hands-free, reached its $10,000 funding goal on Kickstarter in less than 26 hours. The LapStacker attaches underneath the seat of any manual wheelchair and features two retractable straps that snap together like a seat belt over whatever the wheeler is carrying. Once secure, the user can continue pushing their wheelchair with both hands, knowing that their belongings won’t fall to the floor.
“One day I was carrying a box of tools up to my house, because we were renovating. There is an uneven lip to the entry of our house and my wheelchair caught on it and the tools fell off my lap and spread all over the place. I was so mad and frustrated. That’s when I thought of the LapStacker,” recalls Mike Brown, an engineer and paraplegic based in Christchurch, New Zealand, who set about bringing his idea into reality with the help of designer Tim Cox.
Brown and Cox are the co-founders of Adaptdefy, a product development and media company focused on increasing freedom for wheelchair users. Brown was previously featured on New Mobility.com for his invention Uri-Go, which tells those with paralysis when it’s time to pee via a notification on their smartphone.
“Our proof of concept for LapStacker was an old seat belt attached to some wood and strapped to my wheelchair that featured very basic clips. It worked, so Tim and I set about designing one that was lightweight, could attach to many different chairs, could be used by people with limited hand function, was self-locking and easy to lock together and unlock,” says Brown.
With so many considerations, including finger loops on the straps for those with reduced hand function, it took a year just to perfect the design of the product. “We also needed to keep it out of the way of hands and fingers while people pushed themselves in their wheelchairs,” says Brown.
The LapStacker Kickstarter campaign runs until March 8, and backers can have their own LapStacker with manual buckles for about $134 or with magnetic buckles for about $154 (plus shipping). The two models are expected to retail for $259 and $289 respectively.
“Our ultimate aim is to help people who use wheelchairs to not feel slow, disabled, awkward and to increase their independence,” says Brown.