5 Fun Facts About Omeo
The Omeo electric wheelchair combines funky design with ingenious technology that enriches lives. It provides freedom and independence by making the previously inaccessible accessible again for millions of wheelchair users. But let’s delve a little deeper into this pioneering piece of technology; here are five fun facts you may not know about the Omeo:
1. It comes from New Zealand. The Omeo originates from Otaki, New Zealand. It is the creation of inventor Kevin Halsall, who was inspired to design the Omeo when he saw how his paraplegic friend Marcus struggled with outdoor sports in a more traditional wheelchair.
Kevin set himself the challenge of designing a wheelchair that would enable Marcus to enjoy his favourite outdoor pursuits again. A wheelchair that would allow more freedom of movement for the upper body and would travel better across rough terrain such as beaches and bush. Over the course of four years Kevin developed the Omeo we know today.
2. It uses genuinely unique technology. The Omeo is the only personal mobility device that uses an Active Seat Control system in combination with self-balancing technology. This makes the Omeo incredibly intuitive to use and enables the user to ride hands free.
Early prototypes were modelled on a Segway (a two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter) and the wheelchair uses the same gyroscope technology as a Segway does. When on the Omeo, the user tilts their core or upper body to move, turn and stay balanced. The user moves by leaning in the direction they wish to travel.
Even if you lack core muscles or have a limited range of motion, the device allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the seat so you can still take advantage of its full capabilities. Alternatively, the Omeo can be driven by gripping the handles for support to leverage the torso, or by operating the small joystick.
3. It’s pretty speedy! The Omeo has a top speed of about 12 mph, or 20 kph, which is much faster than an average electric wheelchair. This makes it very appealing for customers with busy lives who have errands to run. Not only is it speedy, it can go a long way: up to approximately 65km (or 40 miles) on its lithium-ion batteries. A word of caution though: the Omeo is classed as a personal mobility device. Therefore, some countries or jurisdictions have restrictions on where such devices can be used.
4. It’s award-winning. An early prototype of the Omeo (back then called the Ogo) won first prize and $10,000 in New Zealand’s 2015 Innovate competition. Kevin invested the money into further developing the product. More recently, the Omeo won the 2019 Wellington Gold Award for Innovation.
5. It can climb hills! The things that makes the Omeo truly stand apart is its ability to handle rougher, outdoor terrain. One of its key features is it enables the user to traverse slopes of 20°- 25° incline and about 30° decline, provided there is sufficient traction. The self-balancing technology allows the user to tilt their body weight forwards and backwards accordingly, as you intuitively would when walking up or descending a hill. This all ties in to the intuitive and unique design of the Omeo.