Peter Jidesjö, Executive Vice President Group Services, Permobil
At Permobil, we often go back to one of our founder’s key statements. He said that people living with disabilities should have to access the same technological developments as the rest of us do in our daily lives. We hold onto that statement because it is so prescient and timeless.
That is exactly what Permobil has done with the connected chair. We’ve taken technology commonly associated with comfort and convenience and put it to a more profound use. We've brought the powered wheelchair into the Internet of Things.
“Every person has the right to have his or her disability compensated as far as possible by aids with the same technical standard as those we all use in our everyday lives.” Per Uddén 1967
Since 2019, Permobil power wheelchairs in Europe have been ‘connected’. Last month the 10,000th person worldwide, covering a total of 16 countries, activated connectivity on their Permobil chair. Its success is a clear endorsement that this is what the users of our products want.
Connected chairs benefit their users by providing them with intelligent information via the MyPermobil app on the status of their chairs and providing local service technicians with a fleet management and remote diagnosis system in near real-time. All of which help Permobil reduce the incapacitating ‘downtime’ that power chair users experience.
“We are convinced that a paradigm shift in how we view products will create long-term value for users, funders, and society as a whole.”
We know that users have a unique relationship with their chairs. It is something that many of them describe as part of them and very much an enabler to their lives; more than just a means of getting A to B. Individuals can get all important information about their own chair’s battery life in relation to how they typically use it and individual seat function usage. Research shows that battery-life, and knowing what it allows, is a major everyday concern for wheelchair users.
We are also finding our connected chairs are providing unanticipated benefits. We always hoped providing more information about their chair would give greater confidence to our users. But the app is also adding another channel for us to deepen our relationship with our users. They can talk to us about their lived experiences in real-time, we can then fold that back into providing them with the best possible products and services.
A twenty-first-century product is made up of hardware, digitalised solutions, design and service. This holistic approach has been a key focus at Permobil to deliver something that is more than the sum of its parts.
New innovations with digitalised solutions and services drive a paradigm shift. New technology and how it is applied in an individual’s daily life – such as the MyPermobl app and Fleet Management, are redefining how we should look upon products delivered to the market.
There is a complex ecosystem around people using advanced assistive solutions with many involved in decisions. Permobil can offer the technical solutions to maximise uptime for users of products but to make this a reality needs the collaboration of different players. We are convinced that a paradigm shift in how we view products will create long-term value for users, funders, and society as a whole. I call upon everyone in this ecosystem to ask themselves how we together can take the next digitalisation leap for the benefit of all users. It is about giving the same freedom and technical standards that many of us already experience in our daily lives. From our end, we promise that Permobil will continue to innovate for individuals.