SoftWheel system signifies wheelchair relief (w/ video)

May 8, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

An Israeli startup SoftWheel has a wheel system that could bring significant relief for those in need of more comfort and efficiency when confined to a chair for moving around. Reliance on a wheelchair on smooth city sidewalks or indoor malls is enough of a hardship; sitting in a conventional chair off city limits, going across the ups and downs and rocky fields and paths takes an even greater toll on the wheelchair user's body. Wouldn't it be grand if the wheel, not the user, could absorb most of the shocks that come with all the impact encountered in getting from A to B? An Israeli farmer and inventor who found himself confined to a wheelchair after an accident got to understand the difficulties firsthand and decided to do something about it. What about some fresh thinking focused on the wheel? Gilad Woolf began work on improving wheelchair design.

The result of his efforts, with encouragement and financing from Israel's RAD BioMed Accelerator and a team of experts, is called SoftWheel, from the company with the same name. The SoftWheel team has collaborated with Ziv-Av Engineering Group on wheel technology for a system that can absorb the shocks. SoftWheel CEO Daniel Barel, quoted in The Jerusalem Post, said, "Whereas 30 to 35 percent of the propulsion energy provided to a typical wheel goes into the suspension – to sustain sagging and bobbing – approximately 97 percent of the propulsion energy provided to the SoftWheel system goes right into the wheel itself. Barel said the company's suspension technology is an integral part of the wheel.

Ahishay Sardes, project manager for Ziv-Av, was also quoted in the report. "The engineering challenge was to create a wheel that contains a suspension system that responds selectively, say, when encountering obstacles."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Softwheel Acrobat wheel

When the chair hits bumps, the wheel's hub moves into action. This is where the company's "selective suspension technology" comes into play, extending or shrinking symmetrically as needed and reducing the shock. Sardis said it is the wheel that absorbs most of the blow, not the vehicle or the user's body.

Barel and his team do not see future business growth confined to wheelchairs alone; they are confident the could be a significant application for bikes and eventually for other systems, even including airplane landing gear.

According to Wired, the Israeli company is getting ready to start selling its SoftWheel wheels on sale by the end of this year at around $2,000.

Explore further: Rowheel wheelchair is pulled to move forward

More information: www.softwheel.co.il

Related Stories

Rowheel wheelchair is pulled to move forward

October 8, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Wheelchairs have a basic problem because the occupant must push the wheels forward to turn the chair’s wheels, but this action is physically stressful on the anterior deltoid muscles in the shoulder ...

Kyoto prof rolls out omnidirectional wheelchair

March 27, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- A mechanical engineering professor has taken the wraps off his vehicle that is designed to become a next-generation wheelchair. As its formal name suggests, this is the Personal Mobile Vehicle, or Permoveh ...

Shark Wheel on a roll to reinvent skateboarder experience

June 11, 2013

(Phys.org) —A California-based company has a new kind of wheel for skateboards that delivers a novel shape and claims a special ride experience. This is the Shark Wheel, not circular, not square, but something more interesting. ...

Recommended for you

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mutant robot
2 / 5 (1) May 08, 2014
Please edit language- "confined" to chair is actually offensive terminology. Wheelchair users see their chair as device that liberates and increases their mobility.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.