I’m a little skeptical of a central element of this design, but I admire the initiative. Industrial design consultancy NextOfKin Creatives worked up this Stride Senze concept, a cane for the elderly that would use sensors and a motor to assist the user. In theory it would reduce the amount of force required to move it, and its Segway-like motion correction would keep it stable when weight is applied to it.
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The part I’m skeptical about is the smooth sphere. Should be fine for shopping malls, freshly-paved parking lots and tiled surfaces; but when I think of my elderly neighbor who uses a cane, when she arrives home she must navigate a gravel driveway, then a flagstone path laid over grass to get to the house. Unsurprisingly, she uses one of those canes that terminates in four little legs with rubber caps.
I wonder if a more effective motorized cane could utilize an outside-of-the-box locomotive/balancing element, like those mecha tanks that you see in anime:
Of course, this wouldn’t solve the problem of weight; a cane, at least in my neighbor’s case, has to be light enough for her to get it into the car.
I do hope NOK develops the concept further.