Lauren McGowan couldn’t believe it. She rolled into the Employee Training Center at Woods Services for the Google indieGo demo in her manual wheelchair and just a few minutes later it was transformed into a power wheelchair that she could control easily on her own. The 29-year-old resident of Beechwood NeuroRehab quickly gave her approval to those in attendance as she glided and navigated easily around the room.
“I can’t believe this is my manual chair! This feels so natural and I would recommend this to anyone with mobility issues,” said McGowan.
Lauren wasn’t alone in her enthusiasm for indieGo, an innovative device developed by the Discovery Center in New York that rolls onto any size wheelchair to quickly convert it into a power chair. Three other residents of Woods also got a chance to try out indieGo and all gave an overwhelming stamp of approval.
“Weeee…this is so fun,” said 6-year-old Jayla Saunders, who raced around the room and beeped the horn using the joystick control. “This is super-duper cool!”
Beechwood NeuroRehab resident, Sharon Kelly said she is typically nervous when riding in a power chair but felt comfortable using indieGo because she was able to use her own manual wheelchair.
Carol Dickey, a 63-year-old resident of Woods, enjoyed the experience so much that she asked to keep the device after testing it out, but unfortunately, it is not yet available to the public.
The Discovery Center team, which is comprised of Director of Innovation and Project Manager Jason Kean, along with occupational therapists Sarah Laux and Danielle Kean, are still conducting demonstrations and gathering feedback to perfect product development. The development of the indieGo device was made possible by the Center for Discovery’s assistive technologies department and a $1.125 million grant from Google.org Google Impact Challenge. Once indieGo is available for sale, it is projected to be priced around $3,500, about half the price of a typical power chair.