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I hope you don't mind me dropping you a line but having read the stuff from
your site about the iBOT 3000 wheelchair I contacted Independence Technology
for details. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I have just had a visit
from James McEuen who demonstrated the iBOT in and around my home.
Unfortunately it wasn't one of the new production models but was probably
the same one that you had in the photographs on your web sight. He said it
was about four years old and that the new ones were different in detail and
a little less noisy.
Some aspects of the chair such as the Balancing, and four-wheel drive Mode
were really fantastic. Steep slopes and kerbs were no trouble to all and I
could see over the fence at the bottom of my garden when high up on two
wheels. However there were a couple of problems that (much as I would like
to have one) I can't personally see an answer to - well certainly not at
Firstly the chair was far too high to fit under any conventional dining
room, pub or restaurant table. Even with the footrest down I couldn't get my
legs under the dining room table in my house. This effectively means that
one would have to transfer out of the chair if one wanted to go out to eat.
Secondly, the conventional wheelchair mode is really crap when compared with
my present wheelchair. At the moment I have a Pride Jazzy which will spin on
its own axis and is incredibly manoeuvrable. The iBOT by comparison seemed
vague and difficult to position accurately owing to the snaking caused by
the front castors. I daresay one would get used to it in time, however, I
can't see why with such a high-tech expensive system they don't use the
middle wheel to drive the chair instead of the back one. This (like the
Jazzy) would then put the weight directly over the drive wheel making it
much more manoeuvrable and precise.
Do you still intend to purchase one yourself? And have you any
answers/comments? Its hellish expensive at £21,500 if it doesn't do just
about everything that one wants. Incidentally, $29,000 (the price in the USA)
is only £17,175 at current exchange rates. When I questioned this I was told
that this was because the USA price does not include assessment and
training. Perhaps we should all be in the assessment and training business!
The problem for people with a disability is that, as far as I know, there
are no decent forums for discussing the pros and cons of different kinds of
personal transport. I find it difficult myself, and I was chairman of a
shop mobility scheme for eight years. Your review of the iBOT was much more
informative and useful than all the sales information that I had read. Even
the press articles one reads only regurgitate the information provided by
Independence Technology. Keep up the good work!
Second extract from another mail
As I said in my previous e-mail I would really like an iBOT. Unfortunately,
for me, it is spoiled to some degree by the fact that in every day use it
performs some functions less well than a chair costing a 5th of the price.
Having said that the things it does do well are very impressive. Perhaps
it's just too early in the chairs development for them to get everything
right (although being able to sit at a table to eat, and accurately steer
round the furniture, would seem to be fairly fundamental to me). As you say
it needs to be capable of being used as a full 24 hour chair. I would be
really grateful if we could keep in touch over our dealings in this matter