WALTER Wins RESNA’s Student Design Competition
July 11, 2013
Christian Bremer and Erik Ohlson, Master’s students in Industrial Design Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg Sweden, spent four weeks last fall in Whirlwind’s workshop at San Francisco State University with our technical team. As part of their Master’s thesis, Christian and Erik developed Walter – a rigid frame wheelchair for developing countries with the ability to alter the rider’s center of gravity while remaining seated in the chair. With two distinct seat positions, Walter offers riders three major advantages:
- Enables riders to climb steeper ramps and hills by shifting the seat to the front position and thereby the riders center of gravity;
- Facilitates transfers and allows riders to more easily approach a table when working, dining or just socializing with a more active (front) seating position; and
- Maintains optimal stability on rough uneven terrain with Walter’s bucket seat angle, low seat height and aft seat position.
The development of Walter has included wheelchair expertise and collaboration with wheelchair riders on four continents: field studies in Kenya, prototyping at our workshop in San Francisco, field trials in Indonesia, and project finalization in Sweden. Well received among both users and assistive technology professionals, Walter won first prize overall in RESNA’s 2013 Student Design Competition. We congratulate Christian and Erik on their user-centered, participatory design approach and their achievement. Working with them was both a fruitful learning experience, and interesting glimpse into the future of wheelchair design. We look forward to seeing the future development of Walter.