REVOLUTIONIZING MOBILITY WITH J58'S STANDING WHEELCHAIRS
When engineer Gabriel Costa and Dr. Rivelino Montenegro met, a new chapter in mobility aids began. Driven by a shared mission to enhance the lives of those who use traditional wheelchairs, they conceptualized a standing wheelchair that promises practical and emotional benefits. We dive into the motivations behind their innovative venture and the profound impact of their creation on the lives of wheelchair users. Rivelino: “The idea of our wheelchair is simple, but the impact is immense.”
The challenge and the commitment
Rivelino's inspiration to design a unique wheelchair stemmed from his friend and co-founder Augusto's experience: a high-level volleyball player sidelined by a car accident in Brazil. Touched by Augusto's situation and his lost ability to play volleyball, Rivelino came up with a wheelchair that enables its user to stand. Understanding the necessity of engineering know-how, Rivelino asked Gabriel to join the mission.
At a conference, Rivelino encountered Gabriel, a fellow Brazilian, and instantly recognized him as the ideal partner. Inspired by their shared heritage and vision, he promptly initiated their collaboration. Excited by the project’s innovative nature, Gabriel eagerly accepted the challenge of developing the prototype. Rivelino reflects: "Gabriel had the option of a stable, conventional career but chose to join me." This decision set them on a joint mission to turn the concept into reality.
Addressing the unseen challenges
“Before this project, I hadn’t fully grasped the challenges wheelchair users face,” states Gabriel. The standing wheelchair, especially beneficial for those with lower spinal cord injuries, addresses several critical needs. Socially, it allows users to engage in conversations at eye level, changing the dynamics of interaction and perception. Practically, it enhances independence, exemplified by a paralyzed surgeon who could resume work thanks to a similar innovation. Rivelino points out another benefit: “The health detriments of prolonged sitting are significant. Our standing wheelchair can alleviate these issues, improving life quality and longevity.”
The innovation and execution
The wheelchair, named Ezer, combines mechanical ingenuity with practical design. The team opted for a lightweight, affordable wheelchair powered by a gas mechanism that facilitates an easy transition from sitting to standing. The technique differs from the currently existing wheelchairs, which are often extremely heavy and expensive. Gabriel explains, “Our goal was to create a wheelchair that was empowering yet intuitive to use. Of course, the practical benefits are fantastic, but the positive emotions it gives people are priceless.”
Achievements and aspirations
The team's hard work has earned them accolades and financial backing, including a prestigious TOP loan and a Rabo innovation loan. Rivelino expresses deep gratitude for the support and opportunities of Novel-T's advanced program in The Netherlands: "This is only the start, and I'm eagerly awaiting Augusto’s first trial of the prototype in early 2024.”
The team aims to innovate and develop more aids for people with disabilities in the future. For Rivelino and Gabriel, witnessing the impact of their product is immensely satisfying. They conclude: “We might not become millionaires, but knowing we can bring happiness makes all the difference. That’s the true impact we seek.
"“The practical benefits of our wheelchair are fantastic, but the positive emotions it gives people are priceless.”"
Gabriel Costa & Dr. Rivelino MontenegroCo-founders J58
J58 is a pioneering startup dedicated to improving the lives of wheelchair users around the world. The team is developing a revolutionary stand-up wheelchair that will enhance the independence and mobility of wheelchair users, allowing them to stand and move more freely than ever before.