Powered mobility devices can mean the difference between isolation and participation for many of the 17.1 million of adult Americans (7.1 percent of the population) who find it very difficult if not impossible to walk a quarter-mile, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Crutches, walkers, and manual wheelchairs can help, but powered wheelchairs and mobility scooter assist many people in shopping, visiting people and places, and even moving around the house.
Many powered scooters and wheelchairs are large, heavy, and cumbersome, which can be issues on their own including restricting access to small spaces and over anything but smooth surfaces. The Segway can work well for people with mobility issues who are able to stand up and its near uncanny ability to adjust direction and speed based on leaning input adds another dimension of agility and speed to mobility disabled people. But not many mobility-challenged can stand.
An engineer in New Zealand is developing the Ogo, through his company Ogo Technology. The original and current Ogo prototypes are based on modified Segway units equipped to take direction and speed signals from the user sitting in an active, movable seat that responds to leaning. As long as the rider has sufficient upper body strength and mobility to stay up, hold on to armrest on the side, and lean forward, back, left, and right, the Ogo can interpret the input and move in the desired direction. Work on strengthening core muscles is an additional benefit.
The Ogo has optional all-terrain wheels that add the ability to move across soft sand, gravel, rough terrain, and up inclines. Even the initial prototype versions are smaller and lighter than typical powered mobility scooters and wheelchairs, fitting easily into a most car trunks.
Ogo is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to develop more prototypes prior to turning the design over to manufacturing. The company’s crowdfunding campaign is intended to help with design development to reduce the eventual per unit price so more people can afford an Ogo.
Disabilities vary and different types require varied mobility aids. Ogo improves on an already ingenious technology for a specific subset of persons with mobility disability.