Wheelchair users, especially quadriplegics, are limited to their wheelchairs both as a living space and as a workspace. However, these wheelchairs are outdated, shunning the benefits that technology has afforded these individuals. How might we modernize existing wheelchairs in order to make the lives of adult users more productive and unencumbered? How might these products change the perception of disabled people to others and themselves?
Our team was comprised of five talented individuals working under the guidance of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and CUbiC, the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing at ASU, represented by Casey Smitheran. We students branded ourselves Team Leverage to reflect our philosophy of great change through intelligently applied efforts.
To gain a better understanding of our target user groups, we conducted interviews with wheelchair users and a survey of the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association. We also put ourselves in the seat of a power wheelchair, lent to us by Casey, and went about our everyday lives to identify the complications that arise when confined to a wheelchair.
Areas for Improvement in the Lives of Wheelchair Users
The following mood board is a visual representation of the kinds of aesthetic and functional trends in wheelchair accessory design. This was important to dissect in order to identify possible innovations as well as what to avoid.
Aesthetic Language Development
The following mood boards illustrate the aesthetic cues I wanted our products to portray. Click to expand each.
With the guidance of my mood boards and list of product opportunity gaps, I started refining our solutions for wheelchair users such as a workspace, headrest, and backup camera.