Case study

Taking a wheelchair from dream to reality

Our case study showcases our successfully delivered, cutting-edge prototype powered wheelchair for young wheelchair users, Whizz-Kidz.

Overview

Frazer-Nash Consultancy successfully delivered a cutting-edge prototype powered wheelchair, coined the ‘DREAM Wheelchair,’ to the UK’s leading charity for young wheelchair users, Whizz-Kidz.

We received this ambitious challenge from Whizz-Kidz and Duchenne UK following funding obtained from the People’s Postcode Lottery.  The project, titled ‘Wheels of Change’ aimed to shake up the wheelchair market, by pushing the boundaries of functionality to develop a concept demonstrator which is affordable, modular and cool. The project culminated in the production of the DREAM Wheelchair which encompasses 12 innovative design features which do not exist on any one chair anywhere in the world.

We drew upon our extensive knowledge of complex multidisciplinary projects and set about designing a wheelchair which not only provided the features young wheelchair users need, but features they want to express themselves and live independent lives.

We took a user-centric approach to developing a concept: we wanted the user to be at the heart of the dream wheelchair design. Based on the requirements identified in the innovation hubs that Whizz-Kidz held with wheelchair users, their parents, and carers, we drew-up a number of initial chair design concepts. We then spoke to users, engineers, and occupational therapists to help us downselect the essential features on each concept. Each interview provided us with invaluable insight, highlighting the pros, the cons, the likes, and the dislikes of our customers. Drawing upon the diverse user feedback – from ‘that wouldn’t work’ and ‘that would really help me’, to ‘where can I hang my bag’, and ‘where can I keep my phone’, we produced a final concept design working collaboratively with other members of the consortium. 

We analysed the engineering feasibility of the final concept design -examining how we could achieve the final concepts key themes and functionality through engineering design. Our risk-based approach involved two stages: in the first, we completed the scheme design to identify key components, develop an electronics architecture and identify design challenges. In the second stage, we ‘filled in the detail’, so that we had a chair ready to be built. When developing the concept and the detailed design, we paid significant attention to how the technology being supplied by members of the consortium would be integrated into the design mechanically or within the control space. Within 6 months, the detail design and the manufacture of the DREAM Wheelchair prototype had been successfully completed. Many integration issues were resolved, enabling the prototype to be delivered on time, with complete success.

As engineering partner, Frazer-Nash were integral in the success of the project and led the design, build and integration. The final outcome would, however, not have been possible without the other members of the consortium including The University of Edinburgh, Somo Global, Aergo Health and Curtiss-Wright.

“I was in shock. I was so amazed that they were able to do this much. One of the best things is that you can make it go upwards, which now means I can talk to you at eye level. It’s very helpful for going into shops – you can talk to the person who’s serving you at the same level. And it will also help with friends, being on the same level, will help make conversation a lot easier”

Eli Crossley (wheelchair user)

 

Why Frazer-Nash?

Our extensive experience in delivering complex multidisciplinary projects combined with our key skills in:

  • Electronics hardware
  • Concept generation
  • Requirements development
  • Embedded software
  • Control design
  • Mechanical design and design for manufacture
  • Prototyping
  • Market review and technology road mapping
  • Project management

 

Work with Frazer-Nash

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