design for freedom from disability

This project was done in collaboration with Vasant Iyer, Bailey DaCosta and Surya Sundararajan, and was designed at Caltech in Pasadena. I was the lead designer on the project and lead the development of the concept, construction of the mechanical prototypes and visual design of the product.

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wheelpower needs to exist.

High percentages of caregivers suffer from intense pain due to the physically diffcult nature of pushing clients on a daily basis. Wheelpower hopes to mitigate some of this pressure while increasing caregiver autonomy. The device is a wheelchair power assist module that mounts to collapsible wheelchairs to reduce strain on caregivers. It is controlled by a module on the handles of the chair that maintains a speed that feels to the user like pushing on ground level.

it needs to work for all types of people.

Wheelpower mounts to collapsible wheelchairs and can be retrofit to nearly any chair in under 5 minutes. It features a robust brushless drive that powers a hyper-mobile omni wheel that moves with the chair, not inhibiting its motion.

it needs to be effortlessly intuitive.

WheelpowerWebConcept-02WheelpowerWebConcept-02
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a product cannot help anyone if it is out of their reach.

Smartdrive makes a fantastic product. It only helps self-propelled patients and cannot adapt to collapsible chairs, but it is effective for its intended audience. We like a lot about it, but we did not understand its price,

$5900

We thought we could do better. By designing Wheelpower to use off-the-shelf components with simply-manufactured housing and software integrated controls, we were able to bring the cost down. way down.

$600      (based on $175% margins)

wheelpower is built to be made affordably.

We designed Wheelpower to be made out of existing components and technologies. The 90 degree transmission enclosed in Wheelpower's casing is inspired by "Swerve Drives" popular in FIRST Robotics. By using bevel gears to transfer the power from the motor perpendicular to the driven axis, the module becomes extermely small in profile and can thus collapse along with the rest of the wheelchair.