California Institute of Technology, 2007 - $19,000
There are approximately twenty million people in the developing world who require a wheelchair to be mobile, but only one percent of those people actually have their own chairs. Even these chairs are second-hand most of the time and aren't suited to the rugged, off-road terrain often found in developing countries. As a result, many disabled people rely on their family members for support or resort to begging in order to live.To combat the problem, this team has founded a non-profit, Intelligent Mobility, to produce and distribute safe, durable, and affordable wheelchairs made primarily from old bicycles. The pedal axles on the bike are converted to rear-wheel axles on the chair, the pedals themselves are used for both the footrests and front caster assembly, the x-brace is cut from the metal on the back end of the bike frame, and the handle bars are used as push handles. The team believes this design makes for a less expensive, more durable, and more appropriate wheelchair for the developing world. It also takes less time to make than a standard wheelchair--about one-sixth of the current production time.
Former E-Team Intelligent Mobility International, a non-profit that produces and distributes safe, durable, and affordable wheelchairs made from old bicycles for customers in Guatemala, has been in the news of late.
In April, IMI particpated on the "Extremely Affordable Health Innovations" panel at the World Health Care Congress. Download the podcast interview with IMI, recorded at the WHCC.
Since IMI received an E-Team grant in 2007, the organization has partnered with Transitions Foundation, a Guatemalan disabilities association that mainly employs wheelchair-bound workers, to build and sell wheelchairs in the market. The advantage of IMI's design is simple - wheelchairs made from bike parts are sturdy, cheap, and easy to repair. Last year, IMI was recognized by Popular Mechanics as one of its 'Top 10 New World-Changing Innovations of the Year.'