This patent describes a means by which an outdoor storage unit for wheelchairs is opened and closed. Co-authors King, A.C. and King, B.A proposed outdoor storage units for wheelchairs to be operated by the public. Originality: Physical movement of part of the product is used as visual feedback to the user, who is standing remote from the wheelchair storage pods at the moment of unlocking. This movement was achieved by taking full advantage of the materials and processes already required to make the shell of each storage unit. This changed the project from an un-patentable, ‘lockable-box’ concept (according to an independent patent attorney who reviewed the original proposition) into a design solution with unique qualities of user-interaction, warranting international patent protection. An appropriate design process methodology was proposed and the project was agreed and funded on that basis. In the final design, the local area of the rotationally moulded shell is designed with a double-wall (a unique capability of this process) enabling complex door-engagement details to be post-machined directly into the moulding without compromising its structural integrity or adding new component costs. The work builds directly on Lievesley's work on the innovative application of plastics evident in his previously patented or registered designs for street-furniture and traffic products (see previous RAE 2008 submission: Bicycle Stand Patent number GB2382554 and also RAE 2001 submissions: European Patent EP0863091 'Fire-retardant enclosure' and UK Registered Design No. 2045078 'Pedal Operated Waste Bin'). In each of these two designs, Lievesley also used the double-wall rotational-moulding process to achieve a key product feature without introducing additional components. The first uses it to create a water reservoir to automatically extinguish fires set by vandals in a litter-bin. The second uses the double wall to conceal a pedal-bin’s moving parts within the plastic body to eliminate dirt-traps in commercial kitchens. Impact: The wheelchair storage unit was co-developed with the commercialisation company, Wheelbox Ltd. The research and development work was funded as part of a £735k multidisciplinary European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project named INSTEP. Once the Patent applications had been filed, prototype units were publicly trialled at football stadia, bus termini and a major museum, and were filmed and featured on the BBC’s regional news programmes and in the regional press.
|Publication status||Published - 10 Apr 2008|