FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
Story image
Kiwi-designed wheelchair capable of going offroad goes global
Mon, 11th Mar 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

After tinkering with the final design for a few years, an innovative new solution from New Zealand for those in need is going global.

Omeo Technology began with a friendship formed from a common interest in field archery. Kevin Halsall saw Marcus Thompson, a paraplegic since 2003, struggling through the rough terrain in his conventional wheelchair, sapping his energy and stamina.

Just wanting to make it easier for Marcus, Kevin, a product design engineer, set himself a challenge; to develop a device that would increase Marcus' mobility and give him freedom of movement so that he could compete as an equal.

And now we have the Omeo, a personal mobility device that fully integrates a unique Active Seat Control system that self-balancing technology that has been rigorously tested against exacting world safety standards and is ready for mass production and international distribution from Ōtaki, New Zealand.

Its hands-free operation and range of all-terrain tyres give users the freedom to play sport, move around the workspace and navigate just about any environment from city sidewalks and trains to farm tracks and the beach.

Innovative self-levelling legs provide a stable platform to transfer on and off, and its 38km battery range and powerful headlights allow users to get from A-B at any time of the day or night.

“The dynamic seat control and self-balancing technology means you intuitively govern the direction, speed and braking of the device through body movements – completely hands-free,” says Omeo founder, designer and director Kevin Halsall.

“This is the magic mind-body movement at work – you point your eyes and Omeo instinctively follows. Just like walking! What's actually happening is the Omeo is engaging body and mind together and your core weight is intuitively shifting in the direction you want to go. At the same time providing a complete sense of balance and a great low impact workout for any core muscles you have.

The future certainly looks bright for Omeo, with the company maintaining 31 Agents in seven countries and orders rolling out across New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Canada and the USA, with further enquiries coming in from all over the globe.

Obviously, Marcus proved an ideal test pilot for the design and testing of the Omeo (formerly named the Omeo in its first-generation), but another tester is Sarah LaBrooy who's currently touring the South Island in a camper van, who is also involved in developing the new brand name.

“When I heard about the name change I thought about what the Ogo meant for me. I am at one with it - immediately came to mind. Put ‘O' as the wheels on either side ‘me' and you have o-me-o,” says LaBrooy.

“If my experience is anything to go by I believe Omeo will, in time, invoke an image of freedom, joy and smart technology. I love that Omeo rolls off the tongue and literally has ‘me' in between its wheels.

Omeo Technology head office, with its administration, research and development areas, remains based in the founders' hometown of Ōtaki in New Zealand. The Omeo is also locally assembled and distributed internationally from an ISO accredited manufacturer in Hutt City, Wellington.

“Our business model has been crafted around the needs of the consumer so that they have an affordable, safe, reliable, and fun product. Our mission is to get the Omeo to as many people as possible who can benefit from it,” concludes Halsall.