More reports on: Health & Medicine

Segway inventor Dean Kamen joins hand with Toyota to revive iBot wheelchair

23 May 2016

Dean Kamen, the man behind the Segway, has joined hands with Toyota to bring back another one of his most fascinating transportation devices - the iBot.

The iBot was introduced in the '90s as an innovative multi-wheel chair that gave wheelchair-bound users the ability to travel up steep stairways, elevate themselves to the height of a standing person and even traverse rough, outside terrain.

The device, however carried a price tag of about $25,000 per unit, the device simply did not find enough users to stick around, and was officially discontinued in 2009.

Toyota announced on its website on Saturday that it had pledged to work with Kamen's Deka Research to launch a next generation version of the iBot.

Kamen also appeared in a new video riding the iBot, detailing the vision and reasoning behind bringing the device back into the market.

"Our company is very focused on mobility solutions for all people," Osamu 'Simon' Nagata, chief administrative officer at Toyota Motor North America, said  in a statement on Toyota's website.

"We realize that it is important to help older adults and people with special needs live well and continue to contribute their talents and experience to the world."

Neither company has committed a release date, but they had shown a familiar-looking prototype that offered a hint of what to expect.

According to commentators, this was not just about giving Kamen's technology a second shot.

The deal also allowed DEKA's balancing tech for both rehab therapy and "potentially other purposes." The move raised hopes of iBot tech find its way into other health care devices, personal transport and even robots. They added the move held promise of the wheelchair-bound gaining more freedom.

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