Japanese startup LifeHub based in Tokyo is launching a next-gen walking wheelchair for people with disabilities which can let the user “stand up” and “walk” when there are obstacles in the person’s path.
The startup, founded in January of 2021, has the objective of “freeing people from physical limitations” and is close to achieving this goal with a seed funding of 100 million yen ($867,000) from venture capital companies Incubate Fund and CyberAgent Capital.
Now that development of this unique contraption is in full swing, the product is slated to be launched in the market next year in 2023. In the initial position, the wheelchair will roll around on 4 wheels, with the legs extending in a vertical direction so that the user can be supported on two wheels so that they can make their way around obstacles in their path. The wheelchair can give users the freedom to navigate through tight spaces and crowds, which is beyond the capabilities of conventional and traditional wheelchairs of today.
The raised funds from venture capitalists will be used in the hiring of capable engineers and future research. The initial release of the wheelchair will be in Japan in 2023, while the mass model will be “wheeled out” in 2024, in markets like the US.
LifeHub’s founder and CEO Hiroshi Nakano was quoted as saying that in due course of time, there would be developments like remote control, as well as automatic sensors that can detect obstacles in the user’s path. Nakano was previously attached to Tohoku University as well as the Hitachi group where he worked on bleeding edge solutions for mobility, so he knows what he is doing.