Dean Kamen is known as the man who gave us the Segway- the popular personal transportation device. But not many people know that Dean is also the creator of another revolutionary personal transportation device called iBot.
The iBot is revolutionary because it was designed to work as a wheelchair. Unfortunately, the iBot was discontinued in 2009. The device was very useful but not many people could afford the $25,000 price tag. The good news is, Dean Kamen's company, Deka Research has signed up with Toyota (NYSE: TM) to develop the technology further and eventually relaunch the iBot.
The iBot offered a fresh take on the wheelchair
The iBot debuted in 1999 as a multi wheel chair, designed for wheel chair bound people. The device gave the elderly and invalid, a chance to improve their range of movements. For example, the iBot allowed its users to climb steep stairways, extend the machine vertically to bring the user on the same level as a standing person and even travel over rough outside terrain.
There was no doubt that the device had a lot of potential. The only thing that prevented the wider dissemination of the device was its price. That is why Toyota's interest in the product is very important.
Toyota is known for major innovations in the robotic field, like Asimo- the most advanced humanoid robot in the world. Toyota has also managed to bring down the rate of its technological offerings through smart engineering and mass production.
Next generation version of the iBot to come soon
The company has partnered with Deka Research and has promised to release a next generation iBot. Here's a video of Dean Kamen on an iBot, detailing his vision for the device and why they decided to relaunch the iBot.
Toyota Motor North America, Chief Administrative Officer Osamu Nagata said, Toyota was focused on bringing mobility solutions for everyone. Through the iBot, the company wanted to make it easier for the elderly and people with special needs to live well, so that they could keep contributing their experience and talents. Toyota is also going to license the company's balancing technology and use it to develop other kinds of rehabilitative solutions.
Toyota and Deka Research have not announced any release date or price tag for the revamped iBot. We hope that given how the first version of the device turned out, Toyota will take steps to make the device cheaper this time around.