Naidex 2009 : EbD goes all VideoBoo in Brum

Naidex_Welcome.jpgAt the end of last month, Dom and I ventured out of London to spend a day geeking out in a veritable feast of assistive equipment and technology at Naidex 2009. This annual showcase, held in the aircraft hangar that is the Birmingham NEC, is dedicated to exhibiting every possible independent living product you could ever imagine and all under one roof too! Pretty impressive huh?!? You name it, we saw it, everything from wheelchairs to accessible bathrooms, stairlifts to mobility scooters, glasses to motorised moving kitchen units, we could go on (and on…and on)!

Having arrived early at the exhibition in the Birmingham NEC, all that was standing between the buzzing crowd and the 350 plus exhibitors was a wide piece of silky red ribbon. And then I spotted what (or should I say who) all the excitement was about! David Roberts MBE (11 time paralympic gold medalist swimmer extraordinaire – phew that wasn’t too easy to say!) was standing on the sidelines waiting to officially open proceedings. After a few words, the ribbon was cut and and the crowd rushed forward to explore what the show had to offer…

Thumbnail image for atcare.gifStill in a bit of a daze, I wondered where to start. I pulled out my trusty Naidex map and navigated my way to the ATcare stand. We’d recently met with ATcare and had a good old chat about our mutual passion for changing the face of assistive equipment. So it made perfect sense for us to join forces and find out what people really think about assistive equipment and how things might be changed for the better!

Never one to miss out on an opportunity to have a play with some new tech toys, we decided to add some multimedia magic to ATcare’s survey with VideoBoo. What’s VideoBoo I hear you ask?!? Dom being the ‘tech guru’ that he is explained that VideoBoo is a simple, easy to use “video booth for the iPod generation” and anyone else for that matter.

Thumbnail image for bestbefore.gifArmed with nothing more than a laptop and some rather lovely Enabled by Design postcards and badges, we started the search for people who were up for telling us what they really thought.

We met lots of fantastic and interesting people, each with their own story to tell, we just wish we’d had a bit longer so that we could speak to more! All in all, we feel that our VideoBoo footage gives a great snapshot of people’s views on assistive equipment and the very real issues and needs that are facing people today.

You can check out our VideoBoo-tiful clips from Naidex here. Just to get you started, here’s a little sampler:

On our travels we came across all sorts of interesting products and exhibitors. It would take forever to describe each and every one, so here are my top two highlights of the day. Here goes:

Living Spaces:

home medium.jpgLiving Spaces was an exhibition space based on a very real looking home, much like any other, but the aim of this house was to showcase an exciting and interesting range of innovative products to support independent living. For me, this is an extremely exciting concept and a much needed step away from the more traditional assistive equipment trade shows. I was overjoyed to spot all sorts of beautiful products that I would love to see pride of place in my own home. This just goes to show that assistive equipment in all its shapes and forms doesn’t have to look clinical or ugly in any way whatsoever. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the ‘house’ was also kitted out with all sorts of fancy high tech gadgets too. My favourite being the Robomow, a rather cute looking automatic lawnmower. Now in all reality who wouldn’t want one of those?!? I don’t even have my own garden and I want one! You may laugh, but for me that would be the ultimate kudos, changing people’s perceptions of assistive equipment so much so, that they don’t even realise it when they see it! Ultimately I would love to see a shift towards inclusive design of all products in order to help make everyone’s day-to-day tasks that bit easier.

Fieldmaster/Rugged Hire:

Fieldmaster.jpg

Fieldmaster’s Bill Wells proudly shows David Roberts MBE the new and improved Fieldmaster 224
(Photo: Fieldmaster Ltd)
Fieldmaster is a family run company that design and build innovative wheelchairs to be used in all sorts of situations and on all sorts of terrain. Their work is clearly a labour of love and speaking to them you can tell how passionate they are about developing products that really make a difference to people lives. I loved their energy and enthusiasm and have kept in touch with them since meeting at Naidex – oh the wonders of Twitter!

Another reason why I was so taken by their work is their other business, Rugged Hire. Rugged Hire offer short or long term hire of 4X4 all-terrain powered wheelchairs, ideal for holidays, festivals or anywhere else you want to go for that matter, opening up a whole new world to people with mobility difficulties. From my own experience, I thought that my festival going days were over, my wobbly legs wouldn’t last five minutes and a standard wheelchair would struggle with the tough terrain. Sadly I’ve missed the window to go to this year’s Glastonbury, but I’m happy in the knowledge that I can give it a good go next year!

Enabled by
Design is really excited about Fieldmaster/Rugged Hire’s work and we hope to team up soon on a wee project or two, so watch this space!

And last but not least…

Big thanks to ATcare for letting us camp out at their stand and
to VideoBoo for providing us with such a super-duper accessible way of
capturing people’s views on video. But most importantly, thank you to
all of the people who took the time to speak to us about their
experiences and views on assistive equipment.

Enabled by Design would love to get involved in Naidex
2010. The date’s been set, 20th – 22nd April, so we’re putting on our
thinking caps to see what we can come up with. We’d really love to try and use our know how, perhaps even to run some drop in design surgeries or on the hoof product development (or pimping!) sessions. Sound like a good idea? Let us know what you think, we’d love to hear from you!

And last but not least, just to prove I’m game for getting involved, here’s my VideoBoo thoughts on the day, filmed just before making a dash for the train back to London. Enjoy!

Denise Stephens, Enabled by Design from Enabled by Design on Vimeo.