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Our team was founded through the InnovationSpace program at ASU, a multidisciplinary product development course that places senior-level business students, industrial design students, engineering students, and graphic design students on a team where they work together to develop a product. Combining our four disciplines has given us four diverse viewpoints and perspectives to help us when developing our product.
Our team name, pacr, signifies the unity of our team by incorporating the first letter of each of our names. The name pacr is simple, clean, and memorable, and by using the first letter of our names it signifies the great things that can come from the collaboration of 4 very different things, whether that be skills, viewpoints, or mindsets. While it may be an acronym to each of our names, it also bears relevance to wheeled mobility. Pacr is similar to pace, as in moving forward and making progress.
UP solves the problem of reduced height for manual wheelchair users by allowing them to elevate their seat using pneumatic gas cylinders, which are mounted to the frame of the wheelchair. These gas cylinders provide wheelchair users with ten inches of extra height, nearly raising them to their previous standing height and allowing them to reach things as well as speak with others at eye level.
The cylinders used to elevate the seat are similar to those used in office chairs and just as easy to operate. The wheelchair user simply presses a button to engage the cylinders while slightly pushing downward on two integrated push bars. The air pressure inside the cylinders pushes the seat upwards, and their assistive lifting force means that the user must only lift about one third of their body weight, a task that is very easy for users in our market. Letting go of the button locks the seat in its elevated state. Lowering the cylinders is even easier; the seat will safely glide downward once the lock button is pressed because the weight of the user is greater than the force of the cylinders. This quick, simple, and reliable elevating process will allow users to adjust their height at will, thus giving them more freedom and normalcy in their life.
Society has tried to accommodate for the needs of wheelchair users by installing ramps and specialized parking spots, but has overlooked the lowered height of wheelchair users. When a newly paralyzed person is relegated to a wheelchair, their overall height drops 1-2 feet since they are now continuously seated. This makes it difficult for wheelchairs users to reach things they could before their injury.
The ability to speak eye-to-eye is crucial in social interaction, and is often taken for granted. When in a wheelchair, this becomes much more difficult due to the lower height of wheelchair users. When a wheelchair user speaks with an able-bodied person, he or she is literally looked down upon. Because of this, the user must then look up at the person with whom they are speaking. Having to adjust how they interact with others leads to social inequity and a sense that the wheelchair user is different from those around them.