The wheelchair has more or less served the same purpose since its use by the ancients of China and Greece. While it’s modern predecessor became more recognizable by the late 1800s, we there wasn’t a great deal of innovation found in the mobility aid until the incorporation of electric power and more dynamic and varied means of control.

Now, it appears the latest wheelchair evolution has taken form as the WHILL’s Model A: a stylish, high-tech mobility aid that has greatly improved on previous devices. It may even change the way we perceive the wheelchair.

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Lots Of Innovation In Sleek, Minimalist Design
The Model A includes a number of improvements over conventional electronic wheelchairs. Apart from its sleeker, minimalist appearance, WHILL’s Model A is all about advanced mobility. An advanced drive system allows for much tighter turns, better maneuverability, and a smoother ride over tough terrain.

The Model A also gives the user more extended range; one charge of the lead-acid battery will allow for nearly 20 kilometers or travel. You can even control the Model A through an iPhone app or the joystick on the armrest. WHILL CEO and cofounder, Satoshi Sugie said the aim of the new wheelchair was to “create an image that, rather than a chair for the disabled, this is stylish transportation”.

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Poised For A Booming Market
WHILL is a Japan based startup founded by former automotive engineers. Besides their clear vision for mobility improvement through engineering, their location my have played a roll in this development. Japan is becoming a global leader in technology designed to help their growing population of elderly individuals. That’s a need that’s occurring here in the United States as well.  Tech savvy Boomers aren’t going shy away from technology as they get older—especially when devices are better equipped to help them get around and perform tasks.

Will The Model A Takeoff?
The Model A is set to go on sale in Japan and California, where you can buy your own for under $10,000. The design could change the way people think about mobility aids and how they should function, especially as an aging population means greater demand for such technology.

Will American engineers and manufacturers be able to stay competitive in this advancing realm of technology? Do you think the Model A will be a success and inspire more investment and innovation in smarter, stylish mobility aids?

Tell us what you think in the comments.

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