A manual wheelchair may be the better option sometimes, while in other circumstances an electric scooter would be more convenient. To eliminate the hassle of switching between two types of mobility -- and the expense of having both -- Japanese developers created an attachment that would transform any wheelchair into an electric version.
Gizmag (via Gizmodo) reports seeing this technology at the recent Tokyo Motor Show. Gizmag says WHILL -- as it's called -- is currently a prototype that clamps onto the outer sides of a wheelchair with a bar crossing over in front of the user, allowing them to control the device.
Here's more on the device's specs and mobility:
Each of the [wheel] hubs contains a separate 24-volt motor, powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. These turn the chair's wheels, propelling it up to a top speed of 20 km/h (12.5 mph). The battery reportedly takes two hours to charge, and offers a range of approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles).
Not unlike piloting a Segway, users steer by leaning in the direction that they wish to travel, with a force sensing mechanism in the control section varying the rotational speed of the wheels accordingly.
As of right now, WHILL is reportedly finding wheelchair users to test the device in the field and provide feedback, which will be incorporated into the commercial product.