Add: ZhangJiaDi Village, WangQingTuo Town, WuQing District, TianJin, China
General manager: Miss.Carry
The design of the wheelchair has altered little since 1783, when British national John Dawson created the Bath chair: a seat with two large wheels and one smaller one. Originally designed to take the sick to social activities at the Roman pools in the city of Bath, it rapidly gained popularity and by 1830, Dawson’s version of the chair was being used as a conventional means of transport for the disabled.
However, despite minor changes throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries, such as adding hollow rubber push wheels and removing the smaller one, this simple contraption is still far from ideal for many users. That’s where a group of young and revolutionary Swiss inventors come in.
They were the not-so surprising winners of the transport category at the Beazley Designs of the Year 2018, and a peoples’ favourite of the awards thanks to their product Scewo – a stairclimbing mobility device designed and created by a group of 10 students in partnership with Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology and University of the Arts. The mobility invention beat a self-driving tram, a robotic personal shopping carrier and a zero noise, low-emission water taxi among others to take away the top award.
One of the student designers, Thomas Gemperle, travelled from Switzerland to the Design Museum in London to collect the Beazley award on behalf of Scewo. He told BBC Designed how the idea for the device emerged in 2014, when the group became aware of a championship for disabled people, supported by robotic systems, called Cybathlon. “We decided to develop a stairclimbing wheelchair with which we wanted to compete in the competition,” says Gemperle. Using a crowd-funding page on Patreon to raise money for what they call “the wheelchair of the future”, the students created a functional prototype during their studies, and are currently developing a new version which they plan to present to the Swiss market in mid-2019.