Taking inspiration from custom designed Prosthetics: The companies and people that are turning medical devices into beautiful works of art.


Current average dimension ranges for adult wheelchairs from major U .S. manufacturers are as follows:

  • Overall height: 36 - 37"

  • Seat depth : 16 - 20"  

  • Footrest support (adjustment range) : 16 1/2 - 22"

  • Armrest height from seat rail (adjustment range) : 5 - 12"

  • Seat height from floor: 19 1/2 - 20 1/2"

  • Seat and back width : 14 - 22"

  • Back height from seat rail : essentially as required.

More information on current dimensions can be found here: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/res/VPTC2/11%20Use%20of%20DME%20in%20the%20Home/Types_of_Wheelchairs.pdf

Design Principles

For every successful product there are a unique set of design principles that help guide and prioritize design decisions, ensuring that the end product effectively meets the needs of the end user.

We are not designing a medical device. The aim is to produce a prototype or demonstrator model that breaks the mold of mobility devices and is, above all, desirable and puts user needs and desires first.


You can use existing products as a baseline but we strongly recommend making aggressive use of emerging technologies for a functional device with a forward leaning suite of capabilities.

The following design principles have been created to help provide you, the product designer, with inspiration and guidance.

  1. MODULAR - Adaptability matters.

    1. Accessible design is designing for common connection points, sizes and feature sets to make it customizable and adaptable to different use scenarios and users.

    2. A modular approach can help solve the problem of designing for for every imaginable special need which can create feature creep. Modularity can also provide the ability to upgrade to more powerful technologies as they become available.

  2. UNDERSTANDABLE - Intuitive for users of all types to use and modify based on their needs.

    1. Users of this system should not need to be trained on how it functions, how modules swap, or even how to easily customize it.

  3. FORM AND FUNCTION - Aesthetics is one of the most important components in lifestyle devices.

    1. This is an exercise in designing a sleek, beautiful and functional device for users of all abilities. Aesthetic appeal of the device should take inspiration from the direction that prosthetic design has gone i.e. from a medical device to a work of art.  

    2. Think about what could make the device remarkable. Who would likely be groups of early adopters and how you can grow the adoption rate to a broader base.

  4. USER FIRST DESIGN APPROACH -

    1. Items to take into consideration while designing:

    2. Device fit

    3. Manual vs electric assisted

    4. Taper - how closely will the device taper to the user’s form

    5. Center of gravity - weight distribution

    6. Wheel size and type - texture, weight, width, height and material

    7. User reach - the ability to reach items above the head and on the floor

    8. Material Support - back support, height, firmness, structural rigidity etc.

    9. Taper

    10. Center of gravity

    11. Cost/affordability?

  5. PRINTABLE - identify parts that should be additively manufactured and why (e.g, the part fails frequently and needs to be replaced; the part must change dimensions regularly to provide modular functionality; total product weight is reduced when this part is generatively designed, so traditional manufacturing methods cannot be used, etc.).

Inspiration Links:

State of the art - drive/seating/controller types: https://youtu.be/NNTfbJ-L02c?t=40

State of the art - frame/materials: https://youtu.be/S5CvZP6k8l8?t=87

State of the art - wheels/accessories: https://youtu.be/8HEVruGqG-s?t=34

Offroad wheelchair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMiwatjwwlA

New designs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=013PmTdLAHA

Seat cushions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-xj21W0MS8

Wheel camber: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUKrfEc9z2Q

Choosing a wheelchair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk30X1oujao

Power Wheelchair Batteries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztzomq3NhOQ

Wheelchair addons - engineering: https://youtu.be/uUo2N2ej1gY?t=256

Pimp my wheelchair: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1FbiXDKonk

http://genny.gennymobility.com/uk/

http://whill.us/

Dating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PwvGfs6Pok&feature=youtu.be&t=639

A Day In - various difficulties:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egAlv8W3XHo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTyXqP9Mwxs

https://youtu.be/k6qTwqiHnAM?t=373



This project is in partnership with

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