Electronics can be life changing for people with disability. Offering solutions for controlling a vast range of daily activities from appliances to wheelchairs they assist in keeping those with disability as independent and safe as possible. And like Australia, our biggest trading partner China is becoming an increasingly aged society with 140 million people aged 65 or older. And also like Australia, intelligent equipment and services for this ‘silver’ market in China is growing rapidly.
One company targeting this market is Hong Kong based B-Free Technology Ltd and its B-Free Chair with stair-climbing power. Equipped with non-slip pedrails, this folding power wheelchair claims to steadily and firmly climb stairs of various materials and different inclinations as well as moving smoothly over rough surfaces as the pedrails function like robotic arms. The company is in the final stages of developing the second generation model, the B-Free Ranger. “This version will offer more functions and enhancements,” company spokesperson Aubrey Chan told F2L, which will make the chair more powerful and comfortable. Chan said the chair was expected to be released in late 2015 and will be distributed overseas. “Australia is sure to be one of our target markets,” he said.
In an interview with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, B-Free Technology director, Alan Lee, said in developed countries, conservation of historical buildings is common ideology, making alterations for barrier-free facilities difficult. “Compounded by the global problem of an ageing population, demand for barrier-free products is almost without territorial restriction – meaning the world will be our target market.”
Lee said as more products in the disability, rehabilitation and personal healthcare use and connect with new technologies, such as IoT, these are becoming more user-friendly and reliant on smart devices. “We have to think about how to reduce production costs to make this kind of technology more freely available. In addition, we need to educate and change the public perception of the appearance of conventional electric wheelchairs – meaning there is no ‘standard’ look for a wheelchair.”
Kymberly Martin visited the Hong Kong Electronics Show as a guest of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council