A portable and affordable manual wheelchair accessory that enables off-road access on sand, snow, soft grass and gravel, has collected a national design award.

The Gecko Traxx is a unique tyre cross-section that is unobtrusive when fitted to the wheelchair and expands when in contact with the ground, increasing the contact surface area by three times when needed. The accessory has been tested across a wide range of terrains including sand, snow, soft grass and gravel. The simple, integrated clip can be used even with limited dexterity and enables the individual to fit the tyres to their wheelchair independently without the need to transfer out of the wheelchair.

The Gecko Traxx took out the Australian heat of the annual James Dyson Award for the James Dyson Foundation international design competition that is open to current and recent design and engineering students. The national winner now progresses to the international stage where students from 27 nations will compete. Participants are given full autonomy over their intellectual property.

Winner, Ryan Tilley, from RMIT University was inspired by a friend and long-term wheelchair user who would often get stuck in the sand when visiting beaches. This motivated Tilley to identify a problem that needed to be addressed: “I knew there had to be a better way for him to manoeuvre around off-road tracks and I wanted to build something that was accessible and offered the user a more independent experience.”

One of the judges, University of Sydney professor of robotics, Salah Sukkarieh said: “The Gecko Traxx was the clear winner for me. It’s a simple yet effective design which addressed every aspect of the brief. It’s commercially viable, innovative and most importantly it could help people all over the world.”

Earlier this year the accessory collected a ‘Best in Class’ at the 2019 Good Design Awards. The wheelchair tracks were developed by wheelchair user Huy Nguyen and Tilley, pictured.

The product is eligible for NDIS funding under a self-managed plan and will be ready in the coming months.

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