Glasgow based start-up, Staels Design, is driving to crowdfund £30,000 so that it can commercially manufacture and launch its innovative new cooling wheelchair cushion this summer.
The WheelAir was developed by Staels Design, a firm founded just over a year ago by Corien Staels, a recent MSc graduate at the University of Glasgow.
Staels’ solution, the WheelAir, is a battery powered, ergonomically designed cushion that cools the back of the user by gently blowing air onto their backs.
She first became aware of the cooling problems experienced by wheelchair users whilst writing her undergraduate dissertation.
She discovered that many had to cool themselves in dramatic and unforgiving ways – having to strap ice packs to their bodies or spray themselves with water hoses post-exercise.
The Staels Design team showed final product images for the very first time to brands, retailers, athletes and wheelchair users at the recent Naidex Trade Show, Birmingham and it was met with “huge enthusiasm”, according to the firm.
“I am delighted by the positive response from wheelchair users and retailers at Naidex, it brings us one step closer to improving the comfort of wheelchair users,” commented Staels. “Heating and cooling are real problems, not just for athletes, and I belief that raising awareness on the issue like we do on our blog is only going to help the much needed innovation in the industry.”
Meanwhile, Michael Kerr, the double Paralympian wheelchair rugby player and former captain, said of the product: “I can’t wait until the WheelAir is launched, I experience a lot of problems with overheating during games and am glad there is finally going to be an effective solution to this problem without having to resort to being sprayed with water.”
Staels and Kerr have already featured on the Kaye Adams Show on BBC Scotland where they discussed the current lack of solutions for overheating in a wheelchair and how the WheelAir can alleviate this.
The crowdfund campaign will continue to develop in the coming weeks and Staels Design is already looking for a female wheelchair user to star in its crowdfunding video, set to air soon.