Device aimed at helping people who use powered wheelchairs and scooters

Local News

MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — A device that a DSU faculty member initially developed in his home is already making life easier for some.

Justin Blessinger is the director of AdapT Lab at Dakota State University’s MadLabs.

The idea for the power block sparked after a conversation he had with his colleague Chris Olson.

“I have a lot of neck pain. I’m a quadriplegic, so I have plates in my neck and in the winter I get very cold so I wanted to have a USB powered scarf,” DSU Associate Professor of Information Systems Chris Olson said.

He also wanted a way to charge his cell phone from his wheelchair. The device can help get both of those jobs done.

One end of the power block plugs into the charge socket on a powered wheelchair or scooter.

“When it plugs into that, instead of charging the chair, it’s drawing the charge from the chair and it’s allowing the user of the chair to power any number of devices,” AdapT Lab for Accessible Technology Justin Blessinger said.

Blessinger has been granted a provisional patent for the device.

“We are going to be able to offer USB and the 12 volt cigarette style adapter,” Blessinger said.

The power block is currently being tested. Olson now depends on the device.

“Ever since I’ve had it now it’s something that I really utilize and I think I’d be lost without it,” Olson said.

“If we can figure out a way that makes things a little bit easier for our friends and co-workers and family who use powered chairs then I want to be a part of that,” Blessinger said.

While Blessinger first developed the power block independently, a grant allowed him to take the project to campus and work on it with students.

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