Innovations in Electric Powered Wheelchairs Reshaping Mobility Market
Two years ago, a tongue piercing gadget to drive wheelchairs was known to be a more viable alternative to the sip-and-puff control system for users with restricted movements and those paralyzed from the neck down. Both these innovative methods reflect the ever-evolving nature of the field of assistive technology.
In the sip-and-puff control motorized wheelchair, the user had four different inputs to maintain control of the wheelchair by blowing into the straw or tube. A hard sip at the start enabled the wheelchair to move backward, followed by a hard puff that would stop the wheelchair. In contrast, a hard puff at the start enabled the wheelchair to move ahead, while the wheelchair stopped with a hard sip. Continuous soft puff or sip enabled the wheelchair to move right or left respectively.
The Tongue Drive System was developed by a team of researchers from Chicago and Atlanta. The system uses wireless technology to relay messages from the stud piercing – which acts like a joystick – to the wheelchair. The powerful and intuitive gadget was designed for people who have very limited ability to control an electric wheelchair.
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Other innovative technologies developed to control electric wheelchairs include head control, where switches are mounted in the headrest and are activated by head movements; chin control, that controls the wheelchair with a chip-mounted joystick and neck extension, flexion, and rotation; and speech control, a wheelchair with built-in speech recognition system that is designed for patients with higher level spinal injury.
Growing Trend of Customized Electric Wheelchairs
Electric wheelchairs are the battery supported wheelchairs which reduce the user’s dependence on any external human assistance for movement. They are electricity powered and are supported with multiple functionalities such as controlling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operated gadgets, operating smart appliances in a house, and so on. Fuelled by the various technological advancements in several developed and developing countries across the globe, mobility solutions are evolving continuously and gaining popularity worldwide. Electric wheelchairs utilize high end digital technology for providing better performance and efficiency.
Latest report that analyzes the global electric wheelchair market, Transparency Market Research says that market is poised for a very high double-digit growth rate till 2020. The report, titled, “Electric Wheelchair Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2014 – 2020”, projects that the market, which accounted for US$1.23 bn in revenue in 2013, will rise to US$4.48 bn by 2020. The market is thus expected to register a CAGR of 19.2% from 2014 through 2020.
Browse Market Research Report of Electric Wheelchair Market:
Personalized and customized electric wheelchairs are now the chosen method of expressing individual image and style. The wheelchairs can be painted with special designs or colors, lighted casters, made-to-order upholstery, leather frame covers, spoke guards and spinners with unique patterns, and a whole set of options to accessorize.
Customized electric wheelchairs are also being designed to accommodate special needs of the users. These include wheelchairs modified to attach a child seat in front, extra short or long wheelchairs for very short or tall users, specialized reinforced wheelchairs for users with minimal motor functions or control, and wheelchairs for dancers, athletes, and sportspersons.
Companies that currently rake in considerable revenue in the global electric wheelchair market are: Sunrise Medical, Invacare Corp., Permobil Corp., Pride Mobility Products Corp, Handicare, Ottobock Healthcare GmbH, Drive Medical Ltd., Medort, and Hoveround Corp.