Custom-Fit 3D Printed Wheelchairs to Revolutionize Industry
Clothes can be tailored, eyeglasses and contact lenses can be crafted to the perfect prescription, and even cars can be modified to fit an individual's needs. So it seems contrary that wheelchairs, created specifically for the purpose of improving the lives of the people who use them, would only come in a relatively small handful of shapes, sizes, and functionalities. Now, a British industrial design agency called Layer may change all of that with the introduction of the GO, a partially-3D printed wheelchair.
Human-Focused Technology and Design
Founded by Benjamin Hubert, Layer is known in the design world for app design, wearables, intelligent furniture, and other consumer goods. Their mix of ethnographic research, cutting edge design, engineering, and branding has brought them awards and collaborations with brands like BMW and Braun.
In 2016, Layer took the next step in its commitment to user experience and "human-focused projects" by introducing a new division called LayerLab — a research and development arm aimed at improving quality of life through technology.
GO Big or GO Home!
The GO is the first product to be revealed from LayerLab. It is is the result of a two-year research process. The team held extensive interviews with wheelchair users and medical professionals to learn more about how wheelchairs could be improved for daily life and "to establish how to remove the stigma associated with wheelchairs as medical devices and create a more human-centered vehicle."
Their end product is a consumer wheelchair made with 3D printer technology with the modern, sleek design of a luxury sportscar. Using the customer's biometric information, the team can produce a perfect fit for the seat and foot-bay. Each design is tailored to the person's body shape, weight, lifestyle, and other specific needs. The custom designs provide maximum comfort and support, while reducing the risk of injury. Customers can also participate in the design process, using the GO app to personalize their wheelchair with options like push bars and side guards, and certain style elements.