WheelAir prepares for market launch

Staels Design has revealed the first images of their cooling wheelchair cushion following successful testing by users. The company needs to raise £30,000 through crowdfunding to go into production.

Described as the ‘Dyson of the mobility industry’, the innovative WheelAir cushion aims to tackle the issue of overheating caused after long stints of sitting in a wheelchair that users experience.

The company was founded just over a year ago by Corien Staels who first became aware of the cooling problems experienced by wheelchair users whilst writing her undergraduate dissertation two years ago.

Corien discovered that many wheelchair users were using dramatic measures to resolve the discomfort caused by overheating, including strapping ice packs to their bodies and even spraying themselves with water hoses post-exercise.

The solution she designed was the WheelAir, a battery powered, ergonomically designed backrest cushion that cools the user by gently blowing air onto their backs. The cushion aims to be stylish & functional and currently fits all manual active lightweight wheelchairs.

Following recently testing for the first time by wheelchairs users, the company has described the response as being overwhelmingly positive and is setting their sights on providing cooling solutions for all wheelchairs – power and manual – in the future.

Jay Anderson, a multi-disciplined athlete and wheelchair user, was one of the individuals who tested the new innovation. He commented: "This is the first time I’ve been in the park in the sun without overheating in 20 years. And not only is it adding so much comfort, it is actually attractive.”

Double Paralympian wheelchair rugby player and former captain, Michael Kerr, said: "I can’t wait until the WheelAir is launched. I experience a lot of problems with overheating during games and am glad there is finally going to be an effective solution to this problem without having to resort to being sprayed with water.”

The company is close to launching the WheelAir but first need to raise £30,000 through crowdfunding, which will pay for the tooling required to start manufacture.

Corien said: "I am delighted by the positive response to the WheelAir. It brings us one step closer to improving the comfort of wheelchair users. Heating and cooling are real problems, and not just for athletes. I believe that raising awareness of the issue like we do on our blog is only going to increase the much-needed innovation in the industry.”

Staels Design is currently a finalist in this year’s Scottish Edge, Converge Challenge and Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, all highly acclaimed UK business competitions.

The company will also soon release a crowdfunding video, featuring some key Scottish locations and exclusive interviews from wheelchair athletes.

The WheelAir will be available for a 40% discount for the first 48 hours of the campaign launch on Kickstarter on the 1st of June. There will also be a launch event for the WheelAir taking place on the 3rd of June.

To find out more, visit the website HERE