New Movie 3 Big 20Mb
(In explorer, right click and choose save as, and save to your desktop or a file of your choice)
IMPORTANT NEWS! Its now possible since the beginning of October 2003 to order one of these things - one month deliver time. See Independence Technology Europe.
Older News... (About November 2002)
(This was sent to me by a friend copied from another site - but is what David Coates (Independence Technology's European President) told me was happening about 9 months ago! The gears turn very slowly...)
More news... (About mid November 2002)
More more news!
(exactly 5th December 2002)
I am a big bloke, probably on the limit (and then some!) of its 17 stone approx maximum weight limit, although this didn't seem to bother it at all. This thing has plenty of torque and physical strength. All that had to be done was a quick 10 min session setting it up for my "centre of gravity fit" by laptop computer. Other than this it was for me literally a few minutes job to work out (with the help of James McEuen of course!) how it all works. In 30 minutes total we had climbed stairs, balanced both high up, and low down, and tried the "tank steering" 4 wheel drive mode! (After pumping up the tyres with my trusty CO2 Bottle and regulator! Foot pumps are pretty crap when you are paralysed from the chest down!)
So in this mode it performs much the same as other "normal" chairs, but not as well as some of the better ones. After trying it outside in the street it would be acceptable but I doubt anyone would ever use it in this mode, other than to drive around inside the house etc; so as to be low to fit "under" tables and desks (although still a little higher than most conventional power-chairs) and to protect the carpet. The 4 wheel drive mode would rip it up! And balance mode is SO MUCH more fun, but not practical in really confined areas. And for anyone interested it is both narrower, and shorter than most other power-chairs on the market. Just a little too front heavy, and the controls a little too "delayed" for my liking. Nothing that cant be sorted with a little re-programming. If it was mine I would fit longer castors/bigger front castor wheels, and see about moving the centre of gravity back a little to give a better balance in this mode. Speed - This chair CAN (rather could) be very fast! but the speed of this one is 4mph (limited only by programming) due to the law here in the UK. If it had lights then it would and could be programmed to go faster. Much faster! Different countries have different laws though...
"4 Wheel drive" mode
What it does not do well in this mode is to turn on concrete (jerky and makes a tyre ripping sound), or carpet tightly, as one tries to rip up the tyres and the other would tear up the carpet as expected! For these conditions its best to revert to balance or normal modes! Should be fun in the snow on the way to the pub, or for towing cars... In this mode the seat remains level on ramps and inclines, and can be raised or lowered. Useful for washing vans, gardening, and steep ramps etc. (Except that the only gardening I do involves Cement, Sand, Gravel - check out my driveway... Far too much green in the world if you ask me!) Might be fun on the beach! 30,000 dollars in salty corrosive sea water and sand, nice!
Balance or Balancing mode!
This is the mode that I everyone will use to travel around, its so much more natural than all the other modes. I expect the chair will spend 90 percent of its time like this, even when stopped. Its just better.
Seriously, balance mode is good for many reasons, such as:
1. It happens to be by far the most battery efficient for many technical reasons relating to Centre of Gravity/Centre of Pressure relationship.
2. Its FUN!
3. You are at a more natural height, so you feel stood up!
4. You can "walk" with others at their height so you don't feel left out.
5. Its still FUN!
6. Its cool!
7. Its more directionally stable so road cambers etc don't send you to the gutter etc
8. No small bumpy castors so its smoother, in my case helping prevent muscle spasm, and improving comfort.
9. You can also travel/park in this mode while reclined! good for pressure relief.
10. You are higher up and can see more at all times! Especially good in a crowd...
11. Did I mention its FUN! (Yes I know, but it really is!)
12. You can recline in balance mode too, so its better for pressure relief, as well as comfort, and it feels good!
It feels strange as you drive off, with the whole thing sort of feeling like it should fall forwards and then topple over! But it just doesn't! Stopping is the same, you dread dread pulling back on the stick in case the thing falls over! But it doesn't of course. Seems like a magic hand is holding you up... When you look down at the wheels and especially in "high seat position" it looks very unnatural. But you soon get used to the idea that it will not topple over!
Stair climbing mode
You need a small amount of strength in your arms to use the stair climbing mode but its easy enough for most people I am assured - More a balance thing than a strength thing really.
Should be available in finished more refined quieter form by the beginning of next year (April?) and I will have one...
OK - A minor update,
Independence Technology Europe (a new website) has just opened.
Old Existing page of info below...
It was invented/designed by Dean Kamen who is currently creating much fuss in the
who is responsible for setting up the European division of the Johnson
& Johnson company - David Coates (President Europe)
of INDEPENDENCE TECHNOLOGY - e-mailed me back the other
day, and it turns out he was born in my town!
He says he
will be calling in to discuss it over a beer soon! Can't Wait!
Update! - received new email today... (below)
We have now established the European office in Switzerland.....details below.
I intend to persuade him to allow me to help in development of this incredible device!
my home as he said he would! A first in the health industry I
He came here to Europe, to set up the European division (US division already established) of this company which he is now doing very rapidly. He told me lots of interesting stuff, regarding certification in differing countries and the complex regulations and the time all this takes. Apparently the first areas in Europe that it will be officially on sale are the Scandinavian countries, for these and other reasons . And very soon afterwards here in the UK. (2002?)
It will however be on show at one of our UK mobility shows in Birmingham this year, (May 15-17th at the NEC gone!) so anyone interested can view it in action balancing standing up, and driving over uneven surfaces as well as safe stair climbing! No more struggling to get into your friends house or the shops! Freedom at last for those of us restricted to wheelchairs.
chair is in the country and the show is over, David promises that he is
going to try and arrange for it to be sent here to me for
evaluation/engineering purposes at least for a while, as I am kind of
good at this sort of thing!
With enough input from potential users and people like me who have a habit of redesigning "normal" Powerchairs, we should be able to have a product that does exactly what it says on the tin!. - Devoid of any weak points and problems that most currently available chairs so obviously do, and as right as it is possible to be straight from the start.
No more ramps or house conversions. Think of the overall cost benefit, and nipping down to your friends house or the local shop, that may have steps, will become a normal activity! Also it can STAND up on two wheels vertically giving you the same height advantage as "non disabled" people, allowing normal conversation (and reach!) and greater agility due to its smaller "footprint" in this upright balancing mode. This means moving around in confined spaces/pubs etc is all so much much easier!
There will be no need to constantly do research before a trip to see if you can get on trains/into buildings etc think of the freedom from worry that this offers a chair user!
These benefits will in the next few years become more obvious, and revolutionize wheelchair & disability related modifications to buildings or shopping areas and streets as well as allowing greater real freedom.
Obviously the cost saving in not having to retro-fit special doors and adding ramps and special lowered kitchens, downstairs bedroom extensions and so on offsets the initial cost considerably, and eventually the costs involved in this advanced technology will drop anyway, as the obvious benefits and rise in volume sales will allow the enormous initial development costs to be recovered.
Lots of the data given here (below) is now old and is far surpassed by the current development versions such as range and step height and slope angles are in reality about double now! According to David.
Expect a few videos to be added to this site soon of the chair in action! (As soon as they arrive!)
This is the first of many planned models to come as both they (INDEPENDENCE TECHNOLOGY) and we ALL learn of the possibilities and improvements that this kind of technology can bring now and in the future.
The Independence Technology IBOT 3000
President Clinton, with
Stair climbing demonstration
at a disability show. This does not require more than 5lb of strength
In its balance mode the
seat can be raised too, if required, to reach high items off a shelf,
It is stable and safe in
balance mode, and can drive about quite normally just like any
It can also traverse
slopes and ramps while in balance mode. It is very difficult to
One non wheelchair bound big
fit bloke who I don't know, using all his strength did actually
In 4 wheel drive mode the
castor wheels are well clear of the ground, and kerbs, sand,
The seat remains level,
whatever angle the ground is, or on slopes or when driving up or
mailed me, converted into html. Most of the specs are improved and the design has had many
improvements made since this document but it still makes interesting reading.
Technology, a Johnson & Johnson company, has created an innovative
is designed to have a combination of features that are unlike any mobility
device ever created.
iBOT™ 3000 Specifications (well superceded by current models)
"This device will be CE marked (93/42/EEC) and comply with national regulations before being marketed.