When we think of innovation, we typically think of new products, especially in the mobility realm. However, most often innovation is an evolutionary process, where one incarnation of a product leads to the next. In the mobility world, this is for the most part how some of the best products got to where they are today. With this in mind, it’s fascinating to not only understand the most recent version of a mobility product, but to also look at how far it has evolved from its heritage.
Grandfather of Ultralight Folders
If you haven’t had a Quickie 2 folding ultralight over the past 30-plus years, you’re among the few. If you’re like many, you may have had two or three. Indeed, the Quickie 2 — circa 1983 — although not the first folding ultralight invented, is the best-selling folding ultralight of all time, mainly due to its constant refinement. Its latest incarnation builds upon that 34-year legacy with updated design details that keep it fresh in today’s 21-century competition. For starters, the 2017 frame has significant engineering changes. The original Quickie 2 was made from 6061 aluminum, a hallmark of its day. The latest frame is made from 7000-series aluminum, offering increased strength with decreased weight. Next, the latest version features a four-member cross frame, rather than traditional two tubes, which dramatically increases rigidity, strength, and efficiency (for propulsion). Lastly, the new Quickie 2 features industry-leading “no-play” swing-away leg rests, which are engineered with a new, self-adjusting latching mechanism that’s said to stay rock-solid over the life of the chair. In all, this isn’t the folding ultralight many of us had in the ’80s, but a highly-engineered piece of modern mobility technology.
Have You Looked in the Middle?
When it comes to serious pressure management cushions, ROHO is an original, going back to the 1970s. Many of us have used them, and some of us may have a 30-year collection of older ones in a closet somewhere. However, many struggled with the ROHO dilemma of choosing between the 2-inch Low Profile, which could be too low, or the 4-inch High Profile, which, for some, was too high. Fortunately, ROHO listened over the decades and now offers a 3-inch Mid Profile height, which is also compatible with its recent SmartCheck inflation monitoring system. If you have struggled with choosing between the Low Profile or the High Profile, now might be the time to try the Mid Profile, a height tailored for our times.
A Better Grip
Natural Fit handrims took the ultralight world by storm in the early 2000s as the first ergonomic solution to pushing. They were an easier grip that reduced wrist strain. And, soon they were being used on an astounding number of ultralights. Out-Front, the manufacturer, listened to feedback, and now offers The Surge, a slimmed-down, lighter, ergonomic handrim. The Surge is available in two handrim tubing diameters for wheels from 22 to 26 inches — and it weighs a scant 20 ounces. If Natural Fits weren’t a natural fit for you back in the day, check out The Surge.
All New Curves
Jay, and along the way, the Jay Back, has been synonymous with seating for almost four decades. You’d be hard pressed to find a wheelchair user from the ‘80s or ‘90s who didn’t have a Jay product at some point. Although the backrest market has grown exponentially in competition, Jay remains an innovator in backrests. Now in its third generation, the Jay 3 Back is as innovative — if not more so — as any backrest out there. Available in five contours, four support heights, four mounting hardware options, two materials (now including carbon fiber), and its newest powered heating and cooling option, the Jay 3 Back continues its seemingly endless evolution. There are a lot of awesome backrests on the market, with exotic forms and materials, but don’t overlook the Jay name we have known so long.
Innovation Withstands the Test of Time
We see “innovative” products in the mobility market routinely come and go. Some don’t survive because the technology is so innovative that it voids practicality; others are fantastic, but priced out of the market. This begs the question: Is innovation solely about the latest and greatest, or is there a formula to what’s truly innovative? The answer, when looking at the mobility market, is that truly innovative products don’t just improve technology, they withstand the test of time.