Locomotor disabilities in India stand at 16 million as per a study by the Union Labour Ministry’s National Sample Survey. This includes a large number of old and wheelchair-ridden people. With an aim to contribute to the physically-challenged and elderly people and make their lives a lot easier (using technology, of course), Class XI students of Shiv Nadar School, Gurugram (a not-for-profit initiative of the Shiv Nadar Foundation) have come up with an innovative wheelchair, which they called Hoverchair. The Hoverchair comes with various technological advancements so that those in need aren’t required to be dependent on anyone else.
IndiaTV Tech spoke to the team of students (Jasmehar Jabbal, Tanya Singh Yogi, Krsna Gaind, Prithvi Ramamurthy and Arshia Mago) and Mark Nelson, Head – IT, Shiv Nadar School (head of the Hoverchair project) to know more about the product. Here’s what we found out.
A wheelchair with hoverboard!
For starters, the Hoverchair is like a regular wheelchair but with an attached hoverboard. Made of metal, the Hoverchair has a wide and comfortable cushioned seat with backrest along with a seatbelt for safety and precaution. There are levers, handles, and rotating footrests, which are also made up of metal. When asked about its durability, the team suggested that “the hoverboard is designed to be a high-quality model that is extremely durable and can be used on roads and mud tracks as well.”
It comes with a battery life of up to 12 hours and has a top speed of 10-15km/h. The chair allows people to easily move about carefully, regulate the speed, and even play music. The Hoverchair has a weight between 15 to 20 kgs, which is way less, can charge in about 4 hours, and run up to 16 to 32 km. It doesn’t have any variants though and will be available with a cart-based modular design once our product gets a patent.
When compared to an electric wheelchair, it is way cheaper and can retail at around Rs. 90,000 or more. The team stated, “The electric wheelchairs use motors and heavy battery packs which makes it bulky and expensive. We aimed to make it available for anyone in the lowest cost possible and we were able to cut down the cost by 1/3rd despite retaining the quality, comfort and durability by using a hoverboard.”
The chair has been tested in real-life cases to see how it works for them. Based on the users’ experience, it is expected to get a manual brake for cases when the electric one fails to operate, easier folding scenario, and lighter for further ease of usage.
Currently, the Hoverchair isn’t available in the market. Once the changes (as per the feedback) are added and a patent is received, it is expected to be made available under Rs. 25,000. The project team is looking to pitch the product to existing automobile companies to figure alignment and make it more cost-effective and sustainable.
Hoverchair is an innovative product coming from the minds of intelligent students. Shiv Nadar School has a dedicated program called Capstone, where students can convert their theoretical skills into products that can possibly address and solve a societal issue. With this, the school is likely to produce more such projects by students for the benefits of the society for products that can possibly become available for all.