Briliant hands-free wheelchair translates body motions into directional input

ogo two wheeled wheelchair segway mod profile
Say what you will about the Segway, but despite its relatively high dorkiness factor, it was totally ahead of its time when it was first released back in 2001. Since then, the machine’s gyroscopically balanced, motion-sensing design has been copied by countless other personal mobility devices. We’ve seen everything from skateboards to one-wheeled motorcycles that utilize the same configuration, and pretty soon the world might be getting another.

Designed by New Zealand-based inventor Kevin Halsall, the Ogo is a unique hands-free wheelchair that stands upright on just two wheels. Much like a Segway, it’s equipped with an array of different sensors that pick up on the rider’s motion and translate it into directional movement. If the user leans forward forward, for example, the internal motion sensors instantaneously recognize the movement and relay it to the Ogo’s motor, which then propels the wheelchair forward.

ogo-frontUnsurprisingly, Halsall actually built the chair by tearing apart a brand new Segway (which he paid 14,000 New Zealand dollars for — about $9,140 in the U.S.) and modifying it to be more suitable for a seated user. He didn’t just bolt an old car seat to the thing and call it good though. Segways aren’t designed to be completely hands-free, and require riders to initiate turns with handlebars, so Halsall had to rebuild the control system from the ground up. The wheelchair is now controlled by a finely tuned moving seat that allows the rider to initiate turns by leaning in either direction.

It’s still just a prototype at this point, but based on the short video of Halsall riding Ogo around his workshop, it appears to be pretty damn advanced. By doing little more than shifting his upper body a bit, he’s able to execute extremely precise turns and navigate narrow passages with ease. He doesn’t take it anywhere off-road, but apparently the machine’s wide tires also allow it to roll over tough terrain that would be problematic for traditional wheelchairs.

The Ogo isn’t quite ready for prime time just yet, but it is a finalist in the Innovate Awards for New Zealand, and has already gained attention from a number of private investors. Keep your fingers crossed, and we might just see Ogo hit the streets in a few years time.

Emerging Tech

Groundbreaking new technique can turn plastic waste into energy-dense fuel

The world has a waste plastic problem. Chemists from Purdue University have a potentially game changing solution: They want to turn it into a gasoline or diesel-like fuel. Here's how.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

After a record-setting 15 years, NASA ends Opportunity rover’s tour of Mars

NASA has officially called it quits on its record-setting Mars rover Opportunity, eight months after last hearing from the lander. The Rover landed on the Red Planet in early 2004.
Product Review

Yuneec’s Mantis Q will make you wish you bought a DJI drone

Yuneec’s high-end drones are arguably the ones to beat in terms of flight control, design, and their photographic capabilities. But the company has struggled to make a low-end drone that’s worth buying, and the Mantis Q is proof of that…
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘Refabricator’ lets astronauts recycle 3D-printed tools to make new ones

The International Space Station just received a fancy new gadget in the form of a Refabricator, a machine capable of 3D printing using recycled plastic materials. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Words are so 2018. The Peeqo robot speaks exclusively in GIFs and video clips

Move over, Amazon Echo! Peeqo is a cute robot that will answer your spoken word questions by displaying a specially selected short video or GIF. Because, you know, it’s the year 2019.
Emerging Tech

Airbus will stop making the world’s biggest passenger plane

Airbus announced this week that it will stop building the world's biggest passenger plane in 2021. The maker of the double-decker A380 said a changing market and lack of orders gave it little choice but to end production.
Emerging Tech

Exploding vape pen battery starts fire on SkyWest flight

A vape pen battery caused a fire in an overhead bin on a SkyWest Airlines flight on Wednesday. It's the latest in a string of incidents where faulty or poorly made lithium-ion batteries have caused gadgets to catch fire.
Emerging Tech

Photosynthesizing artificial leaf may be the air-cleaning tool we’ve dreamed of

Engineers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have invented an artificial leaf which could both clean up our air and provide a cost-effective type of fuel. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.