A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
EMMA is a retrofit motorized wheelchair unit.
Most of us take walking for granted but getting from one point to another is a strenuous
everyday job for wheelchair users. Motorized options are available in the market but adoption rates are not as high as expected because they are expensive, bulky and inconvenient for transport.
We aim to provide a solution for wheelchair users to have a comfortable journey.
Adaptable: Able to attach on common wheelchair designs
Affordable: Around half the price of other motorized options
Compact: No increase in floor area of the wheelchair
Lightweight: Total weight <8kg
Modular: Easy to stow for transport or storage
With the validation of the proof of concept of our first prototype (see below section), we worked with physiotherapists from local rehabilitation centers and our university professors to built EMMA Beta. We hope to gain real user feedback for EMMA to better fulfill the needs of wheelchair users.
The motorized unit is attached onto the front of the wheelchair to produce a 3-wheel configuration. It is controlled through a scooter-like handling and has device specifications which are comparable to current motorized solutions in terms of range and speed.
The attachment blocks serves as a rigid mounting point for the other components to be attached onto the wheelchair and would be permanently clamped onto the wheelchair. It does not interfere with the stowage of wheelchair for transport.
The mounting plate is the connection between the mounting blocks and Motor-shaft assembly. It has slots at the attachment point to the blocks which can adapt to wheelchairs of different sizes (18"-22"). The elevation can also be adjusted at the connection between the plate to the motor-shaft assembly to suit different wheelchair configurations.
The joint serves as a detachable point for the top shaft when entering and exiting the wheelchair. It is secured by 2 latches at the side.
Getting on and off the wheelchair...
Limitations of current prototype
Not able to fully stop (on slopes)
No reverse functionality
Requires initial momentum for device to start
We are fully aware of the importance of these functionalities and are actively working on integrating these before delivering EMMA Beta. Local wheelchair users will also be involved in the development of EMMA Beta before reaching your hands :-)
The EMMA Beta user community will be critical to realization of the product and our vision to bring mobility to the masses.
Project EMMA began as a school project which required the exploration of assistive and rehabilitation technologies. Our experiences in volunteering for outing trips conducted for wheelchair-bound users highlighted the travelling difficulties faced by these users.
Furthermore, although motorized solutions are available, they were uncommon amongst these users and are usually expensive, bulky and heavy. Hence, we identified a need for a more accessible solution to make travelling convenient for wheelchair users.
Based on the key goals affordability, easy to use and adaptability, we came up with some concepts.
We settled on the mechanical-scooter steering as it was the most intuitive for the user and least bulk and complexity when it comes to the adaptability to various wheelchairs.
Our first prototype was quickly put together with the key aim to test out the mechanical feasibility and user response to the idea. The support structure was made from aluminium profile and the shaft was adapted from the front end of a scooter. Lead batteries were used to save cost. A hub motor was chosen for the driving system as it is more compact than a DC-belt system.
We brought our prototype to local rehabilitation centers where we gained a better understanding of the needs of different types of wheelchair users and identified areas of improvements.
Our focus on the second prototype is mainly the refinement of the overall structure, accessibility, adaptability and modularity of the device. We replaced the bulky extruded aluminium frame with a waterjet aluminium plate (the mounting plate). The method of attachment has also been simplified through the use of the attachment blocks which provide an interface to easily attach the mounting plate. Slots and multiple holes were also added to the mounting plate to fit various sizes and designs of wheelchair (18”- 22” standard sizes). To improve the accessibility, the joint was added to easily remove the shaft and ingress.
We are currently testing our second prototype, which focuses on the design of the motorized attachment unit, directly with wheelchair users as well as actively engaging with various distributors and suppliers.
The funds received will be used to solve the key limitations of our current prototype and fulfillment of EMMA Beta together with other rewards. It will also contribute to our next design of EMMA which will incorporate feedback from the community of EMMA Beta users and have a finished product design. This version of EMMA will be commercially available.
We will also explore various other ways to improve the lives of wheelchair users, their caregivers and the community. This may be through add-on capabilities of EMMA such as remote monitoring of the wheelchair’s location implemented using an integrated IoT system to give caregivers a peace of mind or an online sharing platform for wheelchair users to share wheelchair friendly routes.
Risks and challenges
We are still in the prototyping process and does not have any certification. The user's safety is one of our top concern and we will work towards achieve the certifications(SGS Product Safety Certification,FCC USA, CCC, etc).
2. Lacking functions
Currently our prototype has some lacking functions, it does not has a reverse mode and there is no mechanical break. We will continue to make modifications to the prototype add more functions to EMMA.
3. Hardware risks
We are creating a physical product, which we naturally faces risks in the engineering of the product, or even the manufacturing of it. Nonetheless, we are committed to this project and have been working on it for the past year. We have guidance from engineering and manufacturing expertise that will aid us in our journey.
Thank you for supporting Mobearlize!
Be the first in the world to own our prototype, become a beta-tester and work closely with us to provide feedback, that can help us to improve the product before launching it.