Dance Wheelchair

A tech-enabled mobility device to elevate wheelchair dancing. It uses two omini-wheels to allow for sideways movement on a wheelchair. The result is an agile wheelchair which puts the dancers at the same eye level. It celebrates the hand maneuvers of a wheelchair which users are already accustomed to.

Personal project, 2011

Dancing for all

Leading the project with primary research, I interviewed local experts in wheelchair dancing. A. Marchione, a 2010 Paralympic Team USA athlete, wished the wheelchair can go sideways. Other insights include the hope to make it more “elegant and gestural,” having minimal footprint to accommodate able-bodied partner, and ergonomically easy to propel and stop. The solutions for these pain points needed to be addressed by leveraged the latest technologies in the field of mobility. The dance wheelchair aims to enable movements that’s not currently possible in a wheelchair. In the Honda omni-traction drive system, the large wheels moves forward or backward, while the smaller wheels control lateral motion.

“I know it’s impossible,
but I wish it could go sideways...”

Elevating the spirit of wheelchair dancing

This project is about projecting technology possibilities. What is the immediate opportunity for design, and what might be possible in a few years? One aspect I wanted to maintain was the spirit of wheelchair dancing. The design retains the rims as a way to control movement, a method dancers are already accustomed to. This dance wheelchair offers unprecedented stance and movements for dancers. Its key innovations include sideways-enabled wheels, propel-by-wire handrims, and upright posture. The dancer ‘plugs’ into the seat by wearing a corset styled hip brace. The form of this device looks sophisticated, but not extravagant to overtake the spotlight away from the dancer.  The profile of the design follows the graceful curves of the dancer’s spine.

Dancer meets their partner at eye level