Skip to main content

This innovative air-powered wheelchair is totally waterproof because it has no electronic parts

HERL PneuMobility
Imagine a new type of powered wheelchair that’s totally waterproof, weighs just one-third of a regular powered wheelchair, and doesn’t need its batteries to be replaced at great cost every couple of years. That’s what researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) have created with a new wheelchair design that’s powered by compressed air.

Oh, and they’ve built a four-wheel scooter, which runs on the same principle, for good measure, too.

Called the PneuChair, the wheelchair weighs just 80 pounds, is constructed from components available from any local hardware store, and can be recharged in just 10 minutes using an air compressor, as opposed to the multi-hour charging of a regular battery-powered wheelchair. (The downside is that it only has a range of around three miles, however.)

The PneuChair project’s lead mechanical engineer was graduate student researcher Brandon Daveler. “As a power wheelchair user for over 10 years, I first-handedly understand the issues of battery-powered devices,” he told Digital Trends. “So developing the technology will not only help myself but also the millions of other powered mobility device users.”

Image used with permission by copyright holder

At present, the team is busy testing the prototypes to ensure they meet the necessary wheelchair standards. Plans to perform a pilot study using the devices are also in development to gain feedback from potential users, with the intent to eventually pursue a grant to perform a larger clinical trial.

And after that? Hopefully FDA approval, and marketing the technology to potential customers.

“I hope that the PneuMobility products will gain world-wide reach and help to solve problems associated with batteries for people in low-income countries where reliable electric power is a problem, in long-term care facilities where safety and battery maintenance is a problem — [and] perhaps even grocery stores, malls, and big-box stores,” Dr. Rory Cooper, Director of HERL, told Digital Trends.

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more
The 11 best Father’s Day deals that you can get for Sunday
Data from a workout showing on the screen of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Father's Day is fast approaching and there's still time to buy your beloved Dad a sweet new device to show him how much you love him. That's why we've rounded up the ten best Father's Day tech deals going on right now. There's something for most budgets here, including if you're able to spend a lot on your loved one. Read on while we take you through the highlights and remember to order fast so you don't miss out on the big day.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 -- $200, was $230

While it's the Plus version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 that features in our look at the best tablets, the standard variety is still worth checking out. Saving your Dad the need to dig out their laptop or squint at a small phone screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 offers a large 10.5-inch LCD display and all the useful features you would expect. 128GB of storage means plenty of room for all your Dad's favorite apps as well as games too. A long-lasting battery and fast charging save him the need for a power source too often too.

Read more