Another year, and another successful Naidex for Dragonmobility. Personally, this was my first time at the event and it was a great opportunity to see so much of our industry under one roof, albeit rather a large one!
First and foremost, it was a pleasure to see a number of familiar faces and Dragons. It was also a pleasure to meet new faces we look forward to welcoming into our community.
As a design engineer by training, I’m not too embarrassed to say that wandering the hall did offer up the occasional mini nerdgasm. So many great products to look at, so many interesting conversations to be had. This line of work can, occasionally, feel like a never ending battle against the same design conundrums that refuse to go away. I have always found that expos are a great cleanser for this, an opportunity to appreciate innovation and seek inspiration. In this sense Naidex had its hits and misses.
There were a number of companies that I was particularly admiring of. In terms of innovation, Aergo and their adaptive support seating stood out as a really neat concept. At Dragon we take huge care with our bespoke seating, ensuring each client is seated exactly to their own, individual requirements. We know this can change considerably as each client grows, so a view to adaptive seating is critical. I believe that Aergo have landed on a solution that could have great potential to improve the comfort of wheelchair users.
From more of an engineering ‘fanboy’ perspective, Loopwheels hit the mark perfectly. We all take the humble wheel for granted. Genuine advances in this area are few and far between. Loopwheels are attempting to break the mould with a shock absorbing wheel that seems to be a great product.
In terms of powered mobility, there seemed to be a trend towards exhibiting all conquering, all terrain, mobility vehicles. Whether it was mud, stairs or even the Sahara desert, there was a product to overcome the problem. These machines are quite a feat of engineering. However, in terms of practicality, for all their prowess over tricky obstacles their bulkiness limits their use. Yes, whizzing across sand dunes would be fun, but it would be frustrating not being able to get behind a desk once your done. The purpose of these machines seems to be to offer ‘something different’ rather than offering any real improvement to the lives of disabled people.
It is true that powered mobility has appeared to struggle to catch up with the technical advances of some other industries. The practical and engineering challenges have meant that the historical essence of the powerchair has endured. And this is quite clear at Naidex, it can be a little tough to distinguish between the market leaders. This is one of the reasons we are so proud of our elevator, a fairly unique design and distinguishing feature. Having said this, there were companies that are putting great looking products in the marketplace such as Genny mobility, whose products are powered by Segway.
As with many exhibitions these days, away from the stands there were a broad variety of seminars. Speakers ranged from Paralympic athletes to parking experts. Particularly engaging for me was a talk on brand management and protection by the chief marketing officer of Wildbore & Gibbons. The speaker emphasised the importance of branding through customer experience and community, an approach we are always keen to employ and improve here at Dragon.
Overall the the experience of Naidex was very insightful. However, it can be challenging to project the full culture of a company in such a controlled environment. This can be frustrating for consumers as well as exhibitors. In anycase, the show definitely highlights the reaches of our industry.