A dream of the perfect wheelchair comes true for the benefit of those in need
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Chan Tsz-lung, a fresh graduate from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has always imagined the perfect wheelchair in memory of his late grandfather.
He used to live with his grandparents. His grandfather had a leg amputated due to diabetes, making a wheelchair a necessity. “Although some electric wheelchairs had a seat-lifting function, users still needed help to move from the wheelchair into a vehicle or onto a bed. My grandmother didn’t have the strength to help him, so there was a chance of injury. I always took care of my grandfather back then.”
His dream wheelchair was one that helps users move themselves from the wheelchair into a vehicle or onto a bed with minimal assistance. His dream has come true at CityU.
With funding from the “Jockey Club Enhancing Youth Empathy Project through Immersive Visualisation” (the Project), led by CityU and funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust (the Trust), Chan Tsz-lung invented a transformable wheelchair with four classmates in two years. Along with the usual height adjustment function, the seat slides out laterally when the user activates an attached linear actuator. And the wheelchair is foldable to save space when not in use.
Though his dream wheelchair cannot serve his grandfather, it will benefit many other wheelchair users. Chan Tsz-lung extended his deepest gratitude to the Trust. “Students often have great ideas, but they need financial support to make the ideas work,” he said. “With a second-hand wheelchair given to us by the Project, we were able to study its mechanisms. We also had to try different motors and other components, which weren’t free. With the support of the Trust through the Project, we were not afraid to make many attempts to make sure we got it right.”
His invention won the Special Award at the Romanian Investors Forum in the finals of International Invention Innovation Competition in Canada (iCAN ) in October 2018.
CityU received over HK$15 million in funding from the Trust for the three-year project. The Project comprises three related programmes: Companions of Social Inclusion (COSI), the Walking with Omura’s Whale programme (WOW), and Technologies for the Elderly and Disabled People by Youths (TEDY).
The Project aims to nurture students’ empathy for nature, the environment, the elderly, people with disabilities, and ethnic minority groups. Students develop innovative creations to solve their daily problems and build a more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous society.
Transformable wheelchair developed by Chan Tsz-lung (left) and his teammate Lam Wah-shing.