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Power Wheelchair & Mobility Scooter time to reinvent - there is $4 Million Challenge

San Diego, Calif. - JANUARY 16, 2019 - A hybrid exoskeleton-on-wheels and an urban wheelchair share-scheme are among the five finalists of the latest Toyota global competition. Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas today, the three-year, $4 million “Mobility Unlimited Challenge” is asking engineers, innovators and designers from around the world to rethink the conventional wheelchair.

 

Toyota Mobility Foundation, in partnership with the global innovation foundation Nesta, is asking participants to be truly inventive, creating pioneering technology that will help improve the mobility, independence and ultimately the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis. The device must also be practical, comfortable and easy to operate; it needs to incorporate the end-user in the development stage for the design to integrate seamlessly into their lives. This may renovate wheelchair or mobility scooter approaches.

 Millions of people around the world live with lower-limb paralysis as a result of a stroke, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. “Current personal mobility devices are often unable to fully meet the needs of users due to limitations affecting functionality and usability,” explains Nesta's prize design manager Charlotte Macken. She says the pace of innovation is slow mainly as the markets are fragmented and new technologies in this field often don’t benefit from funding by health-care systems and insurers. “This can make the field unattractive to the very people who could help change the world. We hope that challenges like this can inspire innovation and are excited to see how the five finalists use this opportunity to develop their ideas further.”

Finalist, "Moby" by Italdesign is a practical idea proposing a Power Wheelchair share scheme that is accessed through a simple app - much like the many bike sharing schemes in urban areas. Offering a series of wheel-on electric devices, it will make the commute much simpler and easier for people who use lightweight manual wheelchairs.

From Japan comes "Qolo" (Quality of Life with Locomotion), a mobile exoskeleton-on-wheels to assist sitting and standing, effectively removing the chair element of the wheelchair. The work of University of Tsukuba Mobility, the device is controlled using the upper body, allowing hands-free operation, enabling users to travel around in a standing position.

Italdesign CEO Jorg Astalosch declared:

“We honestly couldn’t start the new year better. We are proud to be one of the five finalists of this Challenge. We, as a company providing mobility services to worldwide industries, strongly believe that future mobility must have a positive impact on everybody’s life. Moby is part of this vision, which we really hope to bring to reality, so to offer, in collaboration with Municipalities and other companies, a new service to ease wheelchair users’ everyday-life”.

“These five finalists have shown real innovation driven by human-centered design,” says Ryan Klem, director of programs at the Toyota Mobility Foundation. “We think that the technology incorporated in these devices could change the lives of a huge number of people around the world, not just for those with lower-limb paralysis, but also those with a wider range of mobility needs.”

To ensure entries from organizations of all sizes, the scheme offered ten teams seed funding in the form of $50,000 "Discovery Award" grants during the entry period. In total, some 80 entries were received from 28 countries. Now each of the five finalists will receive a $500,000 grant to further develop their concepts. They will then attend workshops, receive mentoring opportunities with experts and collaborate with equipment users to help develop their ideas. The final winning design will be awarded $1 million by Toyota in 2020 at a ceremony in Tokyo.

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With expert consultants and technical specialists in San Diego, CA, ValueAd is a multi-faceted company comprised of several integrated operating divisions. ValueAd's foundation was built upon its core ad server technology, AdXpress, which has grown to deliver a meaningful return on investment. By keeping abreast of the rapidly evolving technology trends and developments, ValueAd works with clients to best determine how the intelligent application of media technology can set them apart from competitors.  The ValueAd Network is the result of six years of aggregating and retaining top-notch, top-tier websites, providing the global audience needed for today's businesses to thrive, reaching Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Because of its marked successes, The ValueAd product family continues to grow. Look for ValueMail, a customized and robust email marketing solution designed to save bandwidth, time and money, and insure corporate mailings are done properly and on time, to be released later this month. 

ValueAd's foundation was built upon its core ad server technology, AdXpress, which has grown to deliver a meaningful return on investment. By keeping abreast of the rapidly evolving technology trends and developments, ValueAd works with clients to best determine how the intelligent application of media technology can set them apart from their competitors. The ValueAd Network is the result of six years of aggregating and retaining top-notch, top-tier websites, providing the global audience needed for today’s businesses to thrive, reaching Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Because of its marked successes, The ValueAd product family continues to grow.