LUCI modernizes power wheelchairs

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Friday, July 17, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – LUCI wants its new hardware and software platform to serve as a “catalyst” for further innovation in the power wheelchair market.

The company in June launched its first product, also named LUCI, a platform that prevents wheelchair users from running into objects, alerts them to tipping danger, and protects them from steps and drop-offs.

“We saw the potential to serve as a catalyst for the industry,” said Barry Dean, CEO and founder. “It would have been a lot easier to sell this to one company and make it a proprietary thing, but we went the hard way. Some things are bigger than brand and market share. Some things are about pushing things further.”

Dean, who is also a Grammy nominated songwriter, has a 19-year-old daughter, Katherine, who has cerebral palsy and has used a wheelchair her whole life.

It was that personal experience that led Dean and his brother, Jered Dean, CTO of LUCI, who has two decades of experience in design and systems engineering, to spend two and a half years collaborating with clinicians to develop the platform, resulting in 16 patents (eight pending).

“We never intended to start a company, but when we tried to find a solution, we were surprised it didn’t exist,” Dean said. “There is technology that is exciting in the industry, but we didn’t see what we call a platform innovation that elevates the wheelchair to the level of other modern devices.”

In a nod to those modern devices, LUCI also allows users and their caregivers to view data; set up alerts for specific events, such as location and low battery; and interact with Hey Google and Amazon Alexa.

“We’ve tried to build the platform in a way that more can be built onto it,” Dean said. “The result will be anonymized data that can really help research and help make changes to protocols. That’s the real exciting thing.”

Right now, LUCI is available on the Permobil M3, M5 and F3 power wheelchairs, and soon on the Quantum Edge power wheelchairs, at a suggested MSRP of $8,445 through private pay (financing is available through Care Credit). It has a number of pay-offs, Dean says, including reducing injuries and costs related to tips and falls, and opening up power mobility to people who haven’t previously been considered good candidates.

“In my daughter’s case, there is visual, motor and cognitive impairment,” Dean said. “There’s a push to have mobility in the pediatrics area as soon as possible because it has great benefits to their development. But like a lot of patients, I was afraid and nervous about it. This can help parents like me see how a power wheelchair can work.”