Jun 13, 2022
Smart Mobility Devices: Reclaiming Autonomy
In this episode, Justin shares the importance of technology, innovation, and smart design in the creation of smart personal mobility devices and how these smart chairs can create autonomy and allow for new experiences. You’ll learn about what makes a smart wheelchair different than a traditional power wheelchair, and the different ways mobility devices can support a variety of users. Justin and Monica also discuss the importance of able-bodied people testing out the mobility device technology they work on, and the future of mobility aide technology in airports, hospitals, malls, and beyond.
“We’ll get random emails, of stories of how our device has changed their ability to get out, and be social, and have just a bit more of a fulfilling life being able to be more independent, and all kinds of stories.” - Justin Gagnon
* 4:17 When Justin first realized the impact of his work on the disability community
* 5:34 What makes a wheelchair smart?
* 7:55 Whill’s adjustments to their products based on customer feedback
* 10:10 Possible upgrades for smart wheelchairs
* 11:24 Personal mobility devices versus wheelchairs
* 12:31 Insurance coverage for smart wheelchairs
* 13:43 Funding for Whill’s products
* 14:27 Business use for Whill’s products
* 16:24 Payment options for public/shared smart wheelchairs
* 17:07 Benefits of autonomous smart wheelchairs for airports
* 18:52 Benefits of autonomous smart wheelchairs for hospitals
* 20:07 Justin’s opinion on the ideal future for smart wheelchairs
* 21:45 Roadblocks to expanding smart wheelchair use
* 25:08 Reduced liability concerns for business
* 26:46 Physician acceptance of wheelchairs
* 28:59 Technology Justin would love to see in the future
* Smart mobility devices differ from traditional power wheelchairs for a variety of reasons. While both are run through electricity, smart wheelchairs are fit with a lot of other functionalities, like Bluetooth capability, easy disassembling, and an increased attention to design for ease of use. Every smart wheelchair is different with so many different features.
* While it’s been standard for even supermarkets to have scooters or wheelchairs, some venues are beginning to embrace the use of smart wheelchairs in hopes of creating more autonomy and independence for people who need additional mobility support.
* Using a mobility aide does not have to be a 24/7 way of getting around. Some people only use their mobility devices on days they feel they really need it or in a situation they would otherwise have to be on their feet too long. This allows for people who would otherwise have to opt out of activities, such as taking a long walk with a friend, a museum visit, or a shopping trip to be able to participate in a way that’s comfortable for them.
* If you’re a transportation office, a changemaker, or a developer, reach out to smart wheelchair companies and see how you can make these mobility devices available in your venues and give them a test drive yourself.
* If you’re considering a mobility device for yourself, take a real honest assessment of your pain levels while moving. Remember, your wheelchair does not need to be something you use all of the time, but it might be really helpful to have on hand for those times where you need a little extra assistance.
* Consider checking out Whill and other smart wheelchair companies. You will be so surprised by the amount of innovation that is happening in this space. To learn more, check out our show notes for additional information.
Justin Gagnon is an MBA graduate from the Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Honours in Business Administration with a Major in Marketing and Minor in Political Science from the University of Windsor.
Justin has been working with WHILL for the past four years in various sales and marketing management positions now holding the title of Vice President of Sales for WHILL North America. WHILL Personal Electric Vehicles are bringing a fresh perspective to personal mobility with innovative design and state-of-the-art technology. In his role (based out of Winnipeg, Canada), Justin is responsible for the development and execution of WHILL’s North American sales strategies. Along with his team he is developing multiple sales channels and working closely with the marketing team on various campaigns/programs to bring WHILL’s new technology to the forefront in the North American market.
Previous to working with WHILL Justin was an Account Director for a full-service marketing agency headquartered in Winnipeg with offices in Toronto, Calgary and Portland, OR. He served as his client’s primary contact working with them to develop strategic marketing plans, marketing campaigns and execute tactical marketing projects to support larger initiatives.
Earlier in his career, Justin held the positions of Director of Marketing for a software development company, Manager of Investor Relations in the biotech industry and Business Development and Account Manager for a digital marketing agency.
Justin, along with his wife Ashley, enjoys travelling, participating in many, sometimes extreme, outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends.
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