Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Leveraged Freedom Chair

$7500 International Technology Award

Leveraged Freedom Chair

Competition Year: 2008

A wheelchair that offers unparalleled mobility for people with disabilities in developing countries

Health and Medical Housing and Transportation


Overview of the LFC

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Our Pitch

The LFC has a simple variable mechanical advantage drivetrain that enables its user to travel on tarmac faster than a conventional wheelchair and off road like no other mobility aid available. The LFC rider can change gears by moving his hands on the levers: grabbing high increases torque, enabling travel over rough terrain, grabbing low increases angular velocity, enabling fast travel on smooth terrain.

The LFC project is motivated by the 14 million people needing a mobility aid in the rural areas of developing countries (USAID), where existing products like western-styled wheelchairs and hand-powered tricycles cannot cope with the rough terrain. A device with the LFC’s capabilities is desperately needed, as these people must often travel long distances under their own power to access education, employment, and community connections.

All moving parts on the LFC are made from standard bicycle components. The LFC has been trialed in Vietnam, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Guatemala, and India. The design has evolved through four generations based on qualitative performance data and stakeholder input.

The LFC is currently being prepared for production through a partnership with India’s Jaipur Foot, the world’s largest disability organization. Our manufacturing partners have invested the cost of tooling and manufacturing space for the production line. We are exploring other international partnerships to open new worldwide markets for the LFC.


Who We Are

Amos Winter, Amos is the lead inventor of the LFC. The idea was inspired by a summer fellowship he conducted in East Africa in which he researched wheelchair technology. He started a class at MIT called "Wheelchair Design in Developing Countries" and later founded the MIT Mobility Lab. He received his PhD from MIT in Mechanical Engineering and will join the faculty in July 2012.

The rest of the team became involved through their participation in Amos's wheelchair design course. They have all spent significant time working in developing countries to field test the LFC, refine the design, and collaborate with our partners.

Mario Bollini, Mario is currently a second-year masters student in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He has been part of the LFC since its inception.

Ben Judge, Ben is a first-year masters student in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He is leading the design of the US-version of the LFC.

Tish Scolnik, Tish received her SB in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 2010, with a special focus on engineering for international development. She is currently the Executive Director of Global Research Innovation and Technology (GRIT), the nonprofit the team founded to bring the LFC to market.

Our Community Partner

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Comments and Support

  • congratulations on your design. I have been considering the lever design for years but life got in the way. Such a design would be very helpful in our hilly terrain. Is it possible to get a drawing? I am a disabled engineer. Thanks- Tom

    Posted by tom edwards on Thu, Nov 29th 2012, 17:38 Report Abuse

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