Wheelchairs have come a long way as far as comfort and design, allowing a greater ease of movement and better fits, but what about people who desire more than a comfortable, straight-forward ride? What about, say, dancers who are no longer able to perform without assistance?
Wheelchair users have been dancing for a while now, which makes sense because for many people who enjoy expressing themselves that way, it’s more than a sport. There’s even some research that suggests Parkinson’s patients have shown improvement after dance training. That said, up until now, the rigid programming of the chairs hasn’t allowed users to be able to keep up on the dance floor.
The Rolling Dance Chair, designed in Florida, aims to change all of that with a chair that allows the freedom and flexibility of movement that every dancer requires.
Science Friday reports that the chair works through a wireless connection with the accelerometer and other motion sensors on the user’s phone, both of which help the chair actually sense when the person is learning – and the chair learns with them. What’s more, costumes won’t get tangled in the hidden wheels, and (like a Segway), the chair responds to the user leaning with accelerated speeds.
The inventor, Merry Lynn Morris, has been perfecting her wheelchair for five years. She was inspired by disabled dancers who struggled with a lack of control over their lower bodies, even when their upper bodies were strong enough to continue to perform.
The Rolling Dance Chair is patented and the first prototype was finished back in 2013. Morris and her team are working hard to perfect a new version that will be ready for a commercial market – one with a fully adjustable seat and wheels that will stay quiet on all of the surfaces where people dance.
It surely won’t be long until no one who loves dance will have to give it up, and that is a beautiful thing.