In the year 2008, when the Israeli farmer Gilad Wolf broke his pelvis, he decided no to lets his crops wither on the wine and resolved to convert his wheelchair into a workhouse. Later, he started developing new designs which were suitable to off road applications. The result of his efforts, with support and money from Israel’s RAD BioMed Accelerator and a team of experts, is called Softwheel.
“Most of the time, the user is driving a rigid wheel with no suspension and it strains yur back and shakes your fillings loose,”says SoftWheel CEO Daniel Barel.
SoftWheel stacks nicely with other innovations in the field like the Copenhagen Wheel, increasing its range by 20-30 percent.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s sweat or gasoline ; energy is energy,” says Barel.
The new SoftWheel’s design features a rim that has three shock absorbing compression cylinders. This suspends the wheel’s hub while evenly distributing mass along the chair, giving the rider the comfort to descend stairs and overcome bumps. “Very quickly we understood it’s not just about putting the suspension inside the wheel,” SoftWheel CEO Daniel Barel told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “The beauty of our technology is not only that it’s an integral part of the wheel, it’s selective and symmetric. That’s the game-changer.” Upon hitting the bump, the wheel’s hub moves into action extending or shrinking symmetrically as needed and dramatically reducing the shock transmitted, he said. In fact, the wheel itself absorbs most of the blow, instead of the rider,” Sardes said. Whereas 30 percent of the expended energy is lost because they go into the suspension- to sustain sagging and bobbing- and only 90 percent of the propulsion goes right into the wheel itself. Because the wheels reduce the impact of street bumps both wheelchairs and bikes that use them can move around easily without looking for ramps, the company said. The revolutionary softwheel technology could be applied to cars, trains, cranes, and even airplane landing gear- basically anything on wheels. the technology used in softwheel is similar to Dyson vacuum cleaners, which appropriated industrial vacuum cleaners for home use. The company plans to start selling their acrobat wheels in Q4 2014with pricing in the ballpark of $2,000 per chair.