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Students create a wheelchair to ease travellers' experience

Shared by Sara Di Fabio on 2020-05-20 11:27

About the solution

To participate in the James Dyson Award competition held in 2019 in UAE, students Ali Asgar Salim and Amer Siddiqui, had to develop and idea that was to find a solution to an existing problem. Initially, they wanted to create something revolving around solar energy and the environment however, because it was too expensive to execute, they changed direction.

Remembering conversation with some relatives who are constricted to a wheelchair, Ali and Amer decided to focus on how to make the wheelchair users’ experience more pleasant.

They found that several airlines and airports are still not wheelchair friendly, they require wheelchair users to arrive much in advance and wait long time before providing assistance. Moreover, the wheelchair itself can be a problem because of its size and weight.

‘It’s restrictive travel. Long waits, weight limits, pre-boarding registration for assistance. Some airlines don’t provide assistance from a vehicle drop-off point to the boarding gate; some do but aren’t required to help you shift,’ Ali said.

Ali and Amer came up with an idea to increase independence, comfort and dignity of travelling wheelchair users. They developed a wheelchair, the Air Chair, that passengers can use for their entire journey, from the airport to the aircraft and that integrates into the aircraft seat enabling all in flight features.

‘The chair makes it easy not only for the passenger but also the airlines,’ Amer said. Indeed, whereas with solutions currently in the market require to alter the flight’s seating plan, with the Air Chair is not necessary. ‘Plus, our solution eliminates the whole concept of storage,’ Ali said.

The Air Chair is also light weighted ‘the model we have now weighs about eight kilos,’ said Amer. They are planning to reach a weight of around five kilos.

To develop the chair the took into account inputs from many users. ‘We converted these inputs into engineering terms,’ Amer said. ‘For lightness, we tried to hit the ultralight mark, which is below 7kg. For durability, we went back to basics of strength and high fatigue life.’

They won the Dyson award and other competitions. They received support from their faculty and their university mates while building the prototype.

‘Throughout, everyone was so receptive to the idea,’ Ali said. ‘Our family loved the project because of the human touch. Our relatives who are wheelchair users are quite excited to see the project’s progress.’

Adapted from: https://fridaymagazine.ae/life-culture/people-profiles/the-story-of-the-...

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Ali Asgar Salim and Amer Siddiqui born in 1997 are two students of the American University of Sharjah in the UAE. They had the idea of the Air Chair after talking to some of their relatives who are wheelchair users and usually experience discomfort while travelling on planes.

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