Welcome to the era of "increased mobility". The Parisian startup Gyrolift, laureate in 2018 of the Prix 10,000 startups to change the world organized by La Tribune, presents at CES 2019 in Las Vegas its all-purpose wheelchair, which allows to move on two parallel wheels with the movements of the bust.
Designed on the basis of a real Segway like Segway, this machine, lighter than a classic electric wheelchair and has a smaller footprint, could become an indispensable tool for the daily life of people with reduced mobility. An application even allows its pilot to move from a sitting position to a vertical position to stand almost upright, convenient to catch a high object or access to "conventional" work plans.
Assistance with maintenance and social reintegration
"To allow people with reduced mobility to get up is to give them autonomy," says Maxime Giraux, CFO of Gyrolift. At the origin of this innovative idea, Luc Soubielle, president of the association Handipode and Eric Monacelli, professor at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, who developed and entrusted a thesis topic in 2011 to Lambert Trénoras, then PhD student in robotics. Quickly, first prototypes are created and first patents are filed. In May 2017, Lambert Trénoras creates his company in Paris, which today employs five people to develop this armchair capable of sneaking everywhere and with an autonomy of forty kilometers for a "normal" use. According to Maxime Giraux, the weight, " important element for travel by car, for example The last model is estimated between 50 and 60 kg and can go up to 10km / h.
In a logic of universal accessibility, Gyrolift affirms through its device to be able to reduce to a certain extent the costs of upgrading in terms of accessibility. In the world of work, it enables wheelchair users to feel equal with their employees who are not disabled and have limited mobility.
" We adapted the chair so that people could use it in the professional setting, disrupting normal activity as little as possible. The fact that Gyrolift has a small enough width allows it to pass doors that are not up to standard or to sneak into any elevator, "says Maxime Giraux.
According to the latest figures published by the Agefiph (Association of management of the fund for the professional integration of disabled people), nearly 510,000 job seekers are disabled, or 8.6% of job seekers for all public . As a reminder, any employer employing at least 20 employees is required to employ disabled workers in a proportion of 6% of the total workforce of the company.
Easy to use and handy for the elderly
The advantage of this chair, which offers a possibility to "verticalize", is also psychological. Being at the same height as the other person during a discussion makes it possible to erase the visibility of the handicap, unlike the more conventional armchairs in which the user remains in a sitting position.
Although Gyrolift is intended primarily for people with reduced mobility whose upper body remains functional, it can also very well be used as a means of locomotion for other profiles, such as the elderly. The device is also easy to use and much more manoeuvrable than a wheelchair because there is no steering angle. Users can perform 360-degree maneuvers. To move, as on a Segway, you must lean towards the desired direction to direct its movement.
"It takes a little time to adapt. In any case, it is much easier to maneuver than the single-wheelers that can be seen lately in the street. When we sit, we have a lot less balance problems, our center of gravity is lower, "says Maxime Giraux
Fundraising in sight, commercialization in spring 2019
The marketing of the chair is scheduled for spring 2019. Currently being fundraised, Gyrolift wants to offer its device for sale at around 14,000 euros, while the price of " an electric wheelchair that gives the opportunity to recover can go up to fifty thousand euros ", Reminiscent Maxime Giraux. The startup also plans to put its wheelchair in long-term lease over 36 months from 350 euros per month, " which would make the device even more accessible According to Maxime Giraux, adding that in the end this type of material could claim funding from the Social Security, regional structures or mutuals.
First orders were placed by companies seeking to improve accessibility in their workplaces, such as the electricity network manager, Enedis, which was also the first to support the idea and to finance the project. development, or Thales and Dassault Systèmes. Gyrolift, part of the Paris Régions Entreprises delegation, is counting on its presence at CES 2019 in Las Vegas to increase its presence in the healthcare market.