Inspiration Projects

Alleviating Poverty and Disability with a Hand-Operated Tricycle

Maker: A team of industrial design students from Carleton University

Challenge: An estimated 5-6 million people in Uganda are living with disabilities, and studies reveal that those living with disabilities are most likely living in poverty as well (source).  As a result, these individuals not only face the challenge of providing basic necessities for themselves, but they also “face the cultural stigma of being non-providers” or burdens to their families (source).

Solution: Redesigning the hand-operated tricycle to maximize both mobility and economic generation.

Results:  The redesign involved four interconnected student projects which each focused on a different design opportunity. Here are the results, cited from the final project summary:

  • Alyssa Wongkee focused on a redesign of the tricycle frame, looking at how to make it more structurally rigid and economical to produce through a simplification of the manufacturing process and reduction of material. The benefit of the adaptations proposed were immediate and apparent through testing that future tricycle frames are now built in this manner.
  •   Using the tricycle as a foundation for accessible mobility, Carmen Liu looked to take advantage of the power output from the tricycle’s drivetrain to allow for the potential of a collection of tools to be powered through hand pedaling. This project took the form of a grain grinder that works by pedaling the tricycle and allowing them to provide a mobile grinding service to families living in the rural area. This project received great interest by locals as it provided an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to be able to contribute to their families and communities.
  •   Following the idea of empowering people with disabilities, Andrew Theobald also leveraged the tricycle as a means for generating income through small businesses. A common mobile communication system was adapted to be mounted and stored onto the tricycle, based on studying how users would interact with it in their daily business.
  •   Lastly, Ruby Hadley’s project explored opportunities beyond the tricycle wheelchair based on the existing manufacturing platform and how it could be leveraged to produce different assistive devices. This project took the form of a rolling walker designed to withstand the local terrain and simplified to be efficiently produced for a fraction of the cost of those seen in North America.

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