Patrick Hyland is an award-winning profoundly deaf designer. Deafness does not hinder his performance as a designer; it provides Patrick with a strong sense of visualising innovative ideas.
Synergise is a mechanical system which allows wheelchair users to negotiate common issues all wheelchair users face; cambered surfaces. These affect wheelchair propulsion as the wheelchair would veer towards the road by gravity. As the user has to brake on one side and propel on the other the momentum of the wheelchair is affected. As a result increased friction leads to a higher energy consumption.
The two-way ratchet mechanism is based on a wheel that has teeth cut out of it and a pawl that follows as the wheel turns. It can only go in one direction with the pawl in place, lifting one pawl and placing the other pawl on the other side makes the shaft go in the other direction. Cables linked to a shifter on the handlebar would lift the pawls. Each lever has independent control allowing the user to go forward, backward and manoeuvre (rotate) on the spot.
The brake is a rope dynamometer attached to the shaft with the main cog which is a frictional brake. A metallic strip is in a grooved spool and when you pull the brake lever, the cable pulls the strip and touches the spool creating friction and slowing down the wheelchair in a controlled manner. This is a useful tool to reduce stress going across cambered surfaces and cornering as well as braking.
The main aim of the project was to safely increase the pace and decrease the effort of wheelchair users. It makes propulsion safer and it is easier to maintain momentum over distance. It is easier and safer to negotiate cambered surfaces.
Synergise won the Age UK award at the Helen Hamlyn Design Awards and was showcased at the SHOW RCA 2011
via: Patrick Hyland