Monday, 20 September 2021

1 million euros: German federal government to fund research on intelligent wheelchair seat

Dr Arne Hothan (Ottobock)

Ottobock awarded grant for SITiN

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding a research project by Ottobock, the medical device manufacturer.

The BMBF is investing in health tech, a key field for the future, and is supporting SITiN – a joint project launched by Ottobock’s wheelchair segment, Human Mobility – to the tune of some 1,000,000 euros. In partnership with TU Dresden University, the goal is to develop an “intelligent seat for young wheelchair users”. Senior Product Manager Dr Arne Hothan launched the project together with his team. “We’re embarking on a new chapter in Human Mobility,” he says. “The project is heading in new directions in terms of customisation and digitalisation, and the aim is to give young users a seat that will provide them with reliable support.”

Slated for 2021 to 2024, the project that has been awarded funding is intended to permit customised posture support that can be easily adapted both throughout the day and as the user’s body grows. “Conventional seat solutions are often less than ideal for users who are still growing. They’re either highly customised, in which case the product has only a short lifetime and doesn’t adapt to the user’s needs that change on a daily basis. Or, it takes a great deal of effort to adjust the seats and they sometimes provide only inadequate asymmetrical support,” notes Hothan. Christian Stenske heads up Human Mobility as CEO. He sees the funding as a key step towards a holistic treatment concept at Ottobock. “We want to offer our customers the best possible support, not just in certain situations but throughout their entire journey,” Stenske says. “With this product, we’re creating ways of providing digitalised, customised treatment that adapts to the patient’s needs.”

The extensive external support received by Ottobock’s Research and Development highlights the fact that the team is working on projects with key relevance for the future. Another current case in point is the iFab4.0 innovation project, which has been awarded a grant of up to one million euros from the Innovation Support Program of the federal state of Lower Saxony. Ottobock is using this funding to push forwards with customised patient fittings using digital processes and 3D printing.

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