Innovation doesn’t usually come in merely a single product, but at its best, it is an underswell of technology that eventually changes an entire marketplace. Such is the case with the wheelchair industry, where although innovation is sometimes traceable to a single origin, often it’s more of a widespread current that bubbles to the surface and changes the mobility landscape.
This raises an intriguing question for many of us who follow wheelchair technology or are in the market for a new wheelchair within the next year: As we look at the mid-2014 world of wheelchair innovation, what are the behind-the-scenes trends that are potentially reshaping the mobility market as we speak?
In the power chair world, drive trains consist of electronic controls, motors and gearboxes. While there have been notable improvements in electronics and motors, the industry has used a fairly typical multistage gearbox for two decades. A multistage gearbox is compact and does a good job with multiple gears to allow balancing speed and torque. However, with power chair users demanding more than ever from their mobility technology, the industry is showing a move toward single-stage gearboxes. With multiple gears, efficiency can decreas