At this year’s Australian International Design Awards, Daniel Molloy from Monash University won the “Highly Commended” accolade for the Boomer, a conceptual idea of a walker for the elderly. Featuring many design improvements over current models, the device is particularly interesting in its stair climbing assist feature.
Here’s from Daniel Molloy explaining the various design details of the Boomer:
With a strong emphasis on safety, Boomer aims to reduce the risk of falls and stair-related falls, which has been identified as a major public health issue amoung the elderly. The design aims to move away from the utalitarian forms and hospital aesthetic of much of today’s elderly products. The key innovation of the design is the stair-ready function, which allows the mobility aid to transform from a walker into a device that enables the user to maneuver up and down stairs safely.
The boomer mobility aid combines user friendly features in a new and modern form. It features easy height adjustment to accommodate varying users, an easy to use push button release which allows the walker to fold up for not only storage and transportation, but also to transorm the walker into a device which enables the user to manuever up and down stairs. It features a padded seat and backrest for the users comfort whilst resting, the padded backrest also contains a zipper and fold out nylon storage bag, ideal for both personal belongings and shopping. Unlike other walkers that have a metal basket under the seat, The boomer mobility aid utilizes the space in the backrest to neatly conseal the storage compartment.
One of the key innovations of this design is the stair ready function, which enables the elderly user to maneuver up and down stairs safely and help to reduce the risk of stair related falls. A push button release allows the mobility aid to fold up, It then uses an electric linear actuator which creates a stable support at the base of the rear wheels, this provides the user with stability and support whilst using stairs. The person can balance and use the mobility aid as a frame to support their weight, while taking one step at a time.
Another key feature of the boomer mobility aid is its sleek organic form, which is made possible through the use of manufactuing processes and techniques appropriate to the design. The structural components will use a manufacturing process called Gas-assisted injection molding. This process lends itself well to the complex forms of the main body and front legs of the mobility aid. A higher stiffness-to- weight ratio can be obtained with gas assisted molding than with other processes, resulting in a lightweight product, a key consideration in the design. The gas-assist process also enables large hollowed structures which has meant that the stair ready components, brake mechanisms and cables are all housed within the form, creating a more attractive aesthetic.
Link @ Australian International Design Awards: Boomer – mobility aid for the elderly