Naidex goes South

Last week I took a day out from the day-to-day to check out the offering of this year’s Naidex South, […]

Last week I took a day out from the day-to-day to check out the offering of this year’s Naidex South, billed as London and the South East’s leading disability, homecare and rehabilitation event. An early start for me and heading towards the ExCeL exhibition and conference centre in London Docklands, my taxi navigated the rush hour traffic passing famous sites such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and finally the Millennium Dome.

Having been invited to the launch of Raising The Standard, a study to explore the need and potential for a scheme to rate, approve and accredit Assistive Technology, my first port of call was the CPD lecture theatre to find out more. Sat comfortably with my cup of tea and Danish pastry, I was interested to hear about this much needed piece of research carried out by Years Ahead and The Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, but more on this to follow in a separate blog post coming soon…

The rest of my day was devoted to exploring the stands, speaking to exhibitors and picking up brochures to read up on what I’d seen during my visit. Here are some of the features and products that caught my eye:

Carbon Black wheelchairFirst up was the Carbon Black wheelchair, constructed from lightweight carbon fibre by F1 engineers and featuring an innovative use of forward illuminating LEDs to light its path when dark. Although not a wheelchair user myself, this bit of kit certainly holds its own in the style stakes. Something that judges at Naidex South, Nikki Chapman and Matt Hampson, agree with having named the Carbon Black winner of this year’s Naidex South Style Award. Last week’s show certainly was eventful for its designers, husband and wife team Andrew and Mary Slorance, who had only just launched the Carbon Black on the first day of Naidex South. I know I’m definitely going to be following Carbon Black’s progress and look forward to hearing more.


Being a bit of a geek at heart, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the University of Hertfordshire stand to meet robots KASPAR and Sunflower to find out how they are helping to support people with disabilities and older people.

KASPAR (short for Kinesics and Synchronisation in Personal Assistant Robotics – I know I find the name KASPAR a bit less of a mouthful!) is a child-like robot that has been developed as a therapeutic or educational ‘toy’ to work with children living with autism. KASPAR has simple and minimal facial expressions, as well as predictable movements, which can help to encourage children to interact with the robot, followed by communicating with people through the robot and progressing to interacting with people directly. You can read more about KASPAR and watch a video here.

Sunflower has been developed as an assistance robot performing tasks including alerting its owner to things such as the doorbell ringing or offering help to carry items in the home. This robot is still very much in its development phase, but there’s definitely something endearing about Sunflower and although not a replacement for face-to-face contact, in the future it could offer a much needed helping hand for people who need support with simple activities around the home. You can watch Sunflower in action in the video below:

At the iHUS stand I found out about a fantastic business that specialises in designing and building stylish living spaces/extensions that can support people living with disabilities and older people to live as independently as possible. iHUS provides the opportunity for people living in a home with outdoor space available (subject to planning permission) to be able to extend their home with leveliHUS access rooms including bedrooms and bathrooms/wetrooms. Each unit is designed after a detailed consultation and is purpose built and manufactured including internal fittings and decor to meet your personal taste and needs. Once completed the whole unit is delivered and installed with minimal disruption and little or no impact on your existing property. The best thing is, if you do decide to move house, you can either sell it along with your property as an accredited extension which will add value or remove the unit completely and take it with you to your next property. How ace is that?!?

Other features I was keen to check out included Meet the Expert and the Independent Living Show Home.

Meet the Expert proved to be a popular attraction, offering the public an opportunity to speak to occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, counsellors and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and have their questions answered during pre-booked 30 minute sessions.

AKW Kitchen

Last but no means least on my to-do list was the Independent Living Show Home. Having loved its first outing in the guise of Living Spaces at Naidex National in 2009, I was super excited about what this year’s show would have to offer. Although a fantastic concept, I was a little disappointed with the execution, as overall it really didn’t feel like someone’s home unlike the Living Spaces feature two years ago. Despite this, some of the products on show were definitely worth taking the time to explore including the AKW inclusive and adapted kitchen, Sky’s ‘Easy Grip’ remote control and HomeEasy’s range of home automation products. I’m still very much a loyal fan of this feature as it has so much potential, but I really do hope that next year’s version will feel a lot more contemporary show home than it does care home. Here’s hoping, fingers crossed! : )

Did you go to Naidex South this year? What did you think of the products and features on show? What would you recommend and what were you less keen on? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Team EbD x