Adaptive tech and travel

It’s estimated that 15% of the population worldwide has some aspect of disability so it makes sense that the more items are designed to improve access for disabled people to travel, the more the world becomes accessible.

In fact, inclusive tourism is a rapidly growing area of the industry and post-pandemic this is likely to continue so ski slopes, rapids, mountains and other unfamiliar terrains and territories are becoming accessible to wheelchair users thanks to new adaptive technology.

An all-terrain chair produced Ferriol-Matrat, made of welded steel tubing with a hydro-pneumatic shock absorber for comprises of a bucket seat, a central wide wheel and four bars for two guides which enable low force manoeuvrability. The front guide controls traction and direction while the rear guide handles balance.

However, though some adaptive technologies are becoming more commercially available (such as skiing feet), things like special, custom-designed protheses will often be designed by, and made for, specific individuals which inevitably comes at a considerable expense.

There are more easily available products for adventurers, such as hoists, belts or ergonomic, body balanced adaptive chairs which make activities like rafting, kayaking, sailing, bungee jumping, flying planes, skiing and paragliding more accessible and available, while some companies specialise in adventure experiences for travellers with disabilities.

Specially designed adaptations such as the FreeWheel clips to the front of a manual wheelchair lifting the casters from the ground and transforming it into a three-wheeler making terrain such as sand, snow and rough trails easier to traverse.

The WeWalk is a smart cane which incorporates a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, directional vibration motors, microprocessor, touchpad, microphone, speaker and Bluetooth Low-Energy module. Objects at all heights, thanks to an ultrasonic sensor are accounted for and it can be fitted to any existing cane and customised it to the user’s habits.

Using AI enables the OrCam MyEYE to learn to recognise and distinguish between faces and interpret hand gestures as commands. When it recognises a face, the MyEye automatically tells the wearer who it is as names are assigned to faces, while pointing triggers it to identify an object.

Solutions developed for all using the principles of Universal Design, could have a quicker and bigger impact. Currently, many of these developments exist as standalone solutions which are often replicated repeatedly.