The iBOT is a powered mobility device for people with disabilities. With the iBOT, users can climb stairs or curbs, go through rough terrain like sand and snow, and balance on two wheels.
Did you know?
Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research, invented the iBOT after seeing a man in a wheelchair struggling to go up a curb to enter a mall.
Research and development on the iBOT all-terrain wheelchair began in 1990 at DEKA, founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen. Kamen had the idea for the iBOT after seeing a man in a wheelchair struggling to go up a curb to enter a mall. During development, the iBOT's code name was Fred Upstairs, after Fred Astaire, because it was agile and capable of climbing stairs.
The first version of the iBOT was publicly announced in 1999. Johnson & Johnson's Independence Technology partnered with DEKA, investing $100 million to license and commercialize the technology. The iBOT 3000 launched as a medical device in 2003, with models ranging in price from $22,000 to $29,000, of which Medicare would cover only about a fourth. An upgraded version, the iBOT 4000, launched in 2005. Sales of this model continued until 2009, when Independence announced that it was discontinuing production.
Kamen and DEKA kept working on it, though. Starting in 2012, a new model proposal began going through the FDA approval process. Development of this version started in 2014, with a design featuring several enhancements over the previous one. In 2018, the next generation iBOT received FDA clearance. The same year, Mobius Mobility, in Manchester, N.H., was formed to sell and distribute the new model, called the iBOT Personal Mobility Device. Production started in 2019.
The latest iBOT specs feature reduced weight, new battery technology, streamlined user controls, and wider selection of seating options, while still offering the signature capabilities that made the platform famous since Dean Kamen first unveiled it: Ability to drive over rough terrain, go up and down curbs and stairs, and balance on two wheels.
To make iBOT more accessible, Mobius Mobility can help users with information about insurance coverage, iBOT for veterans through a VA facility, and financing options.