Five finalists remain in the running for the $1 million prize being offered in the Mobility Unlimited Challenge, a global competition to promote the development of innovative solutions for personal mobility devices.
A panel of expert judges selected the finalists from among 80 applications submitted by teams from 28 countries. The projects included different technological approaches to overcome the limitations of mobility devices to help improve the mobility and independence of people with lower-limb paralysis, including multiple sclerosis patients.
Each of the five finalists will receive a $500,000 grant to develop their idea further, and the final winner of the challenge, which will be announced in 2020 in Tokyo, will be awarded $1 million.
In addition, the finalists will have the opportunity to attend tailored workshops, receive mentoring opportunities with engineering experts, and collaborate with patients to gain further insights that may help them improve their concepts as they approach the end of the competition.
“Current personal mobility devices are often unable to fully meet the needs of users due to limitations affecting functionality and usability,” Charlotte Macken, from Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, said in a press release. “We hope that challenges like this can inspire innovation and are excited to see how the five finalists use this opportunity to develop their ideas further.”
One of the selected projects is The Evowalk being developed by Evolution Devices in the U.S. It is a non-intrusive sleeve with sensors worn around the leg. The Evowalk will track the user’s walking motion, while also stimulating muscles to improve mobility and rehabilitate the muscles over time.
Pierluigi Mantovani, from Evolution Devices, said it was “amazing” to be selected. “This support will help us finish our research and develop the device further, so we can get it to the people who really need it. People like my dad. My dad has multiple sclerosis and developed foot drop. He was recommended a device that was far too expensive so myself and some friends built this prototype that helped. After that we wanted to make something affordable for others. Our main goal has always been to help people regain the ability to walk freely again,” Mantovani said.
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