A concepts design engineer who has been involved in the mobility sector for three decades is calling for business partners to help develop his latest product – a hands-free battery charging device for powered scooters and wheelchairs.
John Rees, who recently registered a patent application for the product, says he is looking for a ‘working partner’ to take his idea on.
Rees has designed various products for the mobility, healthcare and automotive industries, registering more than 20 patents over the course of his career, and says he has often failed to take them beyond the design stage.
But this time he is determined to market his idea, and hopes that companies can come on board to make his design a reality.
Speaking to Access & Mobility Professional, Rees said: “I’ve been like that all my life, had good ideas but not pushed it into the market. Some of my products are quite unique, I’ve managed to get them into the patent office but then never taken it further.”
Recently, Rees has become interested with Internet of Things technology, designing a range of products that could send information to wheelchair users to remind them to, for example, charge their wheelchairs.
And it was through this that he eventually came up with the idea of a hands-free battery charger, which helps people who might find it physically challenging to plug in their wheelchair.
Unlike other chargers on the market, Rees’ design does not use inductive charging, which he claims is expensive, not very efficient, and easily damaged.
With his system, there will be a charger at head height inside a garage, with a “spring-loaded plunger” below the charger on an adjustable bracket.
Also in the garage there are metal “wheel acceptance devices” pieces of upturned metal that the wheel can guide itself into, with a backstop so the wheelchair can’t go beyond and smash into the wall. This is what Rees calls, “the docking station.”
As the user drives into the docking station, the spring-loaded plunger on the wall enters a receptor at the front of the wheelchair, and then transfers the power from the charger above.
The power only turns on when the wheelchair is plugged in, so it is impossible for the user to get an electric shock. Furthermore, once it is charged, Rees hopes the device will automatically send a message to the user’s phone to say it is ready to use.
Rees reckons that his device could be made for around £50 and would like to see it stocked in shops such as Halfords.
He says: “The great thing is nobody is picking up a great big charger or receptor to push into the side of the scooter, because a lot of people find that a problem – especially the elderly and disabled.”
He says what he is looking for now is a company or ‘working partner’ that can take his idea on, giving him a share of any profit that is made from selling the developed product.
He says: “I’ve stopped and asked people, ‘if this was a product would you go out and buy it?’ – and I don’t think anyone has said no!”
Images of Rees’ design can be seen below: