FAQ about The B-Free Chair
The B-Free Chair appears wobbly and unstable as it is climbing the stairs?
Reality is often ironic! Immense effort has been prioritized to ensure absolute stability and safety of the B-Free Chair but it appears wobbly. Functionally, this is the only way to ensure absolute stability and safety for stair climbing while it might give a wrong impression of unsteadiness! Do we really want to climb stairs in a potentially dangerous wheelchair that could be filmed like it is stable?
Upon arriving the stair, the user is required to activate the stair-climbing mode. This appears to be unreliable. Couldn't it be automatic?
Fully automatic to switch to stair-climbing mode is technically possible but not really practical due to the huge amount of variable factors on the road. This is exactly the same reason why the autopilot system of motor vehicles could not be popularized despite years of research and development. Technology is still not able to replace the human brain yet!
Would it be too complicated for the user to manage two controllers on both sides, especially with the Five-stage Control System on the left?
Even for an automatic motor vehicle, the driver would still have to control the steering wheel, accelerator, the brake and the five-speed gearbox! Although it appears complicated with two controllers on both sides, it is however easy as the user would only have to handle the controller on the right most of the time. When climbing stairs, the user would have to pay attention to only two control buttons on the left.
B-Free chair weighs 100kg. Would it be too heavy to ride on taxi or bus?
According to international standards, an electric wheelchair must be heavier than its user to minimize overturning. In fact, our B-Free chair could cover a distance of 27.5km on a full charge, more than enough for the daily use of most users.
The rear pedrails are constantly moving up and down while climbing the stairs, appear to be unsafe?
Existing stair-climbing wheelchairs use only one long pedrail on each side. They look steady while climbing stairs of constant inclination. They are however unable to climb stairs of irregular riser heights and inclinations as there will be moments that only one point of the pedrail is in contact with the step. They will then overturn without a doubt and are not practical to climb the many stairs of irregular size and inclinations in the real world. Immense effort has been prioritized to overcome such defect to ensure absolute safety of the B-Free Chair on rough terrain and irregular stairs. The patented two-part design uses the mobile rear pedrail to transform the chair to a worm to constantly grasp any steps of irregular size, height and inclination. It appears wobbly but this is the only way to maintain two or more point contacts on each side of the pedrails, ensuring constant and firmest grip to the stairs so that the chair will never topple over.
The seat is designed to be higher than a normal wheelchair, therefore making the center of gravity higher. Would it be unsafe?
The answer is exactly opposite! While the chair is climbing stairs, the higher seat actually allows a larger range of seat swing to ensure sufficient backward shift of the user's center of gravity to ensure absolute safety.
While the chair is transforming from its stand to drive position, the front pedrail appears to flip backward quickly causing the chair to lower suddenly and it looks unsafe!
Yes, this is a technical problem! As the motor is sustaining enormous load to rotation the front pedrail through a large range of movement to stand the user and the chair up, the gear ratio must be in 1:3 to ensure enough driving force is created. In reverse, while the chair is transforming from its stand to drive position, the gear ratio must be reversed to 3:1 to create a reverse driving force. Technically, the sudden lowering of the chair is therefore unavoidable but safe.
The pedrail appears thin. Would it break easily? Would it be dangerous if it breaks while climbing stairs?
The pedrail we use is specifically designed for heavy duty agricultural purpose equipped with nylon fiber core and it is extremely difficult to break! In addition, each B-Free chair is equipped with a total of 10 pedrails. The chair would still be safe even if one or two pedrails were accidentally broken.
Part of the machinery is exposed. What happens if it rains?
Using an electric wheelchair in the rain is prohibited. If it rains unexpectedly, the user must take cover immediately! As there are many unexpected and dangerous situations that could happen in the wet weather, users are not encouraged to drive in the rain. Wheelchair manufacturers are therefore not willing to produce a completely waterproof wheelchair to mislead the users who might ignore the risk factors of driving in the wet. Our B-Free chair has equal standard of waterproof specification to other electric wheelchairs on the market.
What is the highest stair inclination the B-Free chair can climb? How would the user know the stair inclination?
We have set the highest stair-climbing inclination to 35 degrees. When the chair reaches an inclination of 35 degrees, the sensor is triggered to raise the alarm-beeping noise. Once the user hears the beeping noise, the stair-climbing attempt must be stopped immediately and the chair must be returned to its safe position. The user will have to take full responsibility for any unsafe attempt to continue climbing an obstacle beyond the capacity of our B-Free chair!
It is not fair to the user to bear full responsibility for any unsafe attempt to continue climbing an obstacle beyond the capacity of our B-Free chair?
Even the most expensive and luxurious motor vehicle in the world would only provide alarm-beeping noise to alert the driver while reversing. It is common sense that the driver will have to bear full responsibility to continue the wrong action. The user must understand that one should never rely fully on electronic automation but bear responsibility to stay alert while using the chair. The most reliable electronic systems cannot fully guarantee that they will never fail. It is the users' vigilance to ensure best safety when using any machinery.
Would one have to learn how to use the B-Free chair bought?
We will have contracts with all distributors around the world to ensure best after-sales services including the establishment of Training Centers.
What is the maximum speed of the B-Free chair? How long would it take to fully charge the battery? How far could it go on a full charge?
Maximum speed of electric wheelchairs is 5km to 7km per hour. Since B-Free chair is designed to be an all-terrain stair-climbing chair, we do not wish the user to speed over obstacles to incur dangers. We have therefore limited our speed to the lower end of 5km per hour in the mean time! It takes merely 5 hours to fully charge the battery. It can then continuously run at the maximum speed for 5.5 hours. Our B-Free chair could therefore cover a distance of 27.5km on a full charge.
There is space between the pedrail and the side panel. Would gravels enter the space to affect the chair's performance?
We have also put a lot of effort in its design to ensure any entered gravels will come out easily and the superb performance of the pedrail will not be affected.
What makes you invent this B-Free chair?
Three years ago, I came across a TV programme complaining the poor accessibility in Hong Kong for the disabled. My instinct lateral thinking was to put the responsibility on the electric wheelchair manufacturers who should have designed and made a practical stair-climbing electric wheelchair for the users. It must be a hard task as there were non! How difficult would it be, I asked? I began dedicating my time to the making of this chair and has since found out how hard it is to make one!
What kind of University degrees do you have to invent such unique chair?
Nobody would believe that my formal education was only up to secondary school level. All I can say is that I have the unique God gifted talent in product design. Over the last 23 years, I have designed many items from toys, electrical appliances, and articles for daily uses to production machineries. I am therefore proud to have single-handedly created my B-Free chair from design to assembly!
Seat height looks high, is it easy for the user to get in and out of the WC?
Yes, the seat height is higher because of our seat balancing system. User can however adjust the angle of the seat. The seat could be moved and tilted forward or backward to get in and out. The higher seat height also has an advantage of giving the user a higher view among the crowd. Psychologically, it may help the user to feel a bit more proud of getting out and about instead of feeling low or ashamed of driving low among everybody else!
Is it accessible to WC washbasin, table, toilet, etc?
Same as above, our seat balancing system allows the user to adjust the seat angle accordingly. For access to the toilet, it is similar to other electric wheelchairs.
Is its turning radius similar to other power WCs?
Yes, if not better.
Does the climbing action and change of operation mode require constant user's control?
The user could select different driving mode and control the speed / direction with the controller. Stair-climbing action is activated by pressing a single button and the speed mode will be automatically fixed to the slowest to ensure safety.
What is its performance on rough surface in comparison with other power WCs?
Pedrail is more superior to wheel on rough surface.
Any requirements on riser height, tread depth and nosing shape of individual steps of the staircase?
Our B-Free Chair can comfortably climb steps of 8'' riser height and any uneven/irregular tread width / depth, even with curved treads. It can comfortably climb stairs of high inclination of 35 degrees. It should be able to handle the different nosing shapes we would come across.
Any inclusion criteria for the user?
Any user who is able to handle a normal electric wheelchair would find our B-Free Chair very user friendly. The controller is detachable for a helper to drive the chair if the user is unable to manage.
In confined space (e.g, public transport, lift), will it cause serious injury to other passengers if its tracks roll on their feet or catch on their clothes?
As to other electric wheelchairs, the user must drive carefully to avoid accidents.
Can it be used for boarding low-floor bus w/o WC ramp?
As our B-Free Chair can comfortably climb steps of 8'' riser height, it can climb any gaps of at least the same height. We will definitely try boarding a low-floor bus without WC ramp on our road test in April. As the chair can cover a distance of 27.5km when it is fully charged, it should allow most users to go wherever they want to freely instead of having to call and wait for special WC buses, especially if they are near the MTR.
Can it overcome the gap between the platform and MTR? If yes, how wide can it overcome?
Yes, just switch to pedrail mode to overcome the gap. B-Free Chair can definitely overcome a gap of 30cm comfortably. The user will never have to call and wait for help anymore when using the MTR.
How long (at ordinary speed on level ground) can it run after fully-charged?
Our B-Free Chair can last for 5.5 hours even at its maximum speed, a total of 27.5km, more than enough for the daily use of most users.
Can it be swapped to manual mode (push by other) when the battery is running out?
Yes, it can. Just unlock the wheel to swap to manual mode anytime.