Since suffering a broken back at age 14, Andrew Slorance has imagined reinventing the wheelchair. Now, more than 30 years following his spinal injury, the broadcast journalist-turned entrepreneur is finally setting the wheels in motion. Slorance's Carbon Black is a sleek, minimalistic design aimed at giving wheelchair users an efficient and stylish new way of getting around.
The clunky old wheelchair has experienced its fair share of innovation in recent years. We have seen everything from the integration of solar-power, rugged vehicles for heading off-road and even wheelchairs of the electric folding variety.
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Slorance's vision doesn't involve a major overhaul, or attaching bells and whistles to broaden the vehicle's functionality. The thinking behind his Carbon Black wheelchair is to offer a practical and aesthetically pleasing transport option for users looking to ride in style.
The wheelchair weighs 8.5 kg (18.7 lb) and is built almost entirely from carbon fiber. Slorance describes the major benefits of the material in a wheelchair design as improved energy efficiency and comfort, through an ability to better absorb vibrations from the road. He claims that as a user pushes with the arms in a traditional, metal wheelchair, much of the energy is lost throughout the structure. Carbon fiber, he says, provides the user with much more value for each push, pointing to its widespread use in motorsport and aerospace engineering.
Its monocoque design sees the seat with adjustable backrest form an integral part of the wheelchair. The Carbon Black is modular, meaning that its components easily come apart and feature rounded edges, intended to be thrown in the back of a car without damaging its interior. There's also the option of integrated LED lights operated by a switch built into the seat for night time riding.
Slorance is committed to building each Carbon Black bespoke for each customer. While the wheelchair went on sale last November in the UK, he is now looking to bring it to the US market, though he must first win approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He has turned to Kickstarter to raise cash for the application process and fund his expansion into the US. Different pledge levels will get supporters different Carbon Black components (assuming the funding goal is met), although unfortunately no prices are listed for a complete wheelchair.
You can hear from Slorance in his pitch video below.
Source: Carbon Black