Glasgow based start-up, Staels Design, are launching their cooling wheelchair cushion, the WheelAir®, this summer – but to get there, they first need to raise £30,000 through crowdfunding.
Staels Design was founded just over a year ago by Corien Staels, a recent MSc graduate at the University of Glasgow, who first became aware of the cooling problems experienced by wheelchair users whilst writing her undergraduate dissertation.
She discovered that many had to cool themselves in dramatic and unforgiving ways – having to strap ice packs to their bodies or spray themselves with water hoses post-exercise.
Therefore, Corien has created the WheelAir® which is a battery powered, ergonomically designed cushion that cools the back of the user by gently blowing air onto their backs. The Staels Design team showed final product images for the very first time to brands, retailers, athletes and wheelchair users at the recent Naidex Trade Show, Birmingham and it was met with huge enthusiasm.
One wheelchair user said: “I’m a real fan!”, making a comment on the product’s unique fan-cooling structure.
Michael Kerr, the double Paralympian wheelchair rugby player and former captain 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.”
After the excitement of Naidex, the company are now getting ready to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise £30,000. This campaign will pay for the tooling required to start manufacture of the WheelAir®.
Corien said: “I am delighted by the positive response from wheelchair users and retailers at Naidex, it brings us one step closer to improving the comfort of wheelchair users. Heating and cooling are real problems, not just for athletes, and I belief that raising awareness on the issue like we do on our blog is only going to help the much needed innovation in the industry.”
Corien and Michael featured on the Kaye Adams Show on BBC Scotland on the 11 of April where they discussed the current lack of solutions for overheating in a wheelchair and how the WheelAir® can alleviate this.
More information on the Wheelair® can be found at: www.staelsdesign.com.