We happen to see more and more devices that use self-balancing technology and that are used from people with reduced mobility. This is certainly a confirmation that in the world there is a need to invest in alternative technologies than into traditional wheelchairs and Genny was undoubtedly the first to go this way.
In my opinion, two major serious dangers are lurking.
The first is undoubtedly the idea of being able to independently purchase a self balancing base and build “home-made devices” that allow moving in an unsafe way and in total danger
These are just two examples of the numerous “contraptions” that are on the web and which do not meet any security requirement. In Genny, it took years of work to create a safe medical device.
In the world there were no existing guidelines and laws for the construction of a self-balancing wheelchair, as we can find in the automotive sector.
We must realize that a self-balancing chair, called APW (Active Power Wheelchair) has more in common with a helicopter than with a car.
It is for this reason that, at Genny, security derives from aeronautics, such as redundancies, the procedures of “landing” in case of failure (lowering of the feet), alarms involving the three senses, hearing, touch and sight; this allows not to ignore the warning signs.
The second serious risk is represented by the fact that the disabilities are many and different from one another. It is clear and obvious that there is no device for universal mobility. What is perfect for one type of disability can be deadly for another type.
For this reason in Genny we worked with the Italian Ministry of Health through INAIL and the Swiss Ministry of Health, SUVA, to create the Medical Guidelines that allow you to extricate yourself in the complicated world of disability to understand who is suitable for the use of an APW and who is not.
I understand that it is difficult to tell a person “you can not use this device”, but it is certainly better than taking responsibility for endangering the lives of others.