An Archive of Press Releases: The Independence 3000 IBOT Transporter

The latest News: The iBOT wins fast track approval with the FDA!

A news story published on - Stair-Climbing Wheelchair Evaluated on November 21, 2002, reports that this new stair climbing wheelchair may soon be a retail product in the US. This article can be purchased on the website. Go to the "Archives" and search on "stair climbing wheelchair."

The iBOT is also being developed for a European Market

CBS 60 Minutes II: The Wizard of IT

  • Dean Kamen: the Wizard of IT - link to the CBS website with the story about this inventor of the IBOT (a wheelchair that goes up and down stairs) along with a link to the videoclip from the segment that aired on the February 6, 2001 program.

NBC Dateline Exclusive: A revolutionary new wheelchair

  • A revolutionary new wheelchair - the 11 minute video news story can be viewed using the Microsoft Media Player which can also be downloaded from the site.

Johnson & Johnson Begins Clinical Trials On Investigational Advanced Mobility System For People with Disabilities

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 1, 1999--Johnson & Johnson today said it has begun clinical trials, involving people with disabilities, to test a new advanced mobility system that has unique functions not available on existing products.

The advanced gyro-balanced system is designed to operate on four wheels or two wheels, stabilizing the user by instantly and automatically adjusting and balancing itself. Among its many design features is its ability to allow a seated user to move about at eye-level while balanced on two wheels. Its rotating four-wheel base is designed to allow the user to climb stairs and traverse uneven and hilly terrain, such as grass, sand and rocky pathways. In its four-wheel operation the device is designed to climb over street curbs, while keeping the seated user level and balanced.

Called the INDEPENDENCE(TM) 3000 IBOT(TM) Transporter, the system is the invention of Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research & Development Corp., Manchester, NH, with whom Johnson & Johnson partnered five years ago to develop the advanced mobility system as an FDA approved medical device. Results of extensive product testing and the clinical trials, which will demonstrate its safety and functionality, will be completed and submitted to the FDA within the next 12 months. The company said it hopes to receive approval for marketing in 18-24 months.

The company said the INDEPENDENCE(TM) 3000 is an investigational device and it is working closely with the FDA to conform to regulatory requirements for development, initial product testing and clinical trials prior to application for marketing approval. Public inquiries will be answered but the device cannot be made available for sale until FDA review and approval have been achieved.

This technology makes use of sensors to continuously and automatically adjust the device to account for movement of the seat and the user's center of gravity. It is an integrated combination of electronic, sensor and software components. Backup systems have been designed to assure the safety of the user in all functions. It is powered by state-of-the-art rechargeable batteries and can operate all day, depending upon usage, on a single charge.

Johnson & Johnson said the INDEPENDENCE(TM) 3000, once approved, will be available by prescription only and the features of the device will be set to the size, weight and ability of the user.

The company said the INDEPENDENCE(TM) 3000 is expected to represent an attractive new choice for many of the approximately two million Americans with mobility related disabilities who now utilize wheelchairs, and millions more around the world who also seek greater mobility. In addition, as the population ages, many more people are expected to seek to maintain mobility and self-sufficiency.

The INDEPENDENCE(TM) 3000 will be priced in the range of $20,000-$25,000 and will include a multi-year service warranty. The company said the initial version is designed for adults and it has plans to develop a version for children, as well as for individuals with more unique needs, which would also
have to be approved by the FDA.

Johnson & Johnson said development and marketing of the INDEPENDENCE(TM) 3000 would be conducted by a new subsidiary, called Independence Technology, a Johnson & Johnson company, which is developing other products using innovative technologies to help meet the needs and desires of people with
disabilities. Throughout its developmental phase the company has worked closely with people with mobility-related disabilities, including employees of Johnson & Johnson, and an outside advisory board.

The company has established an Internet website that provides information about the product and a feedback service: also accessible via A telephone information service has been established at 1-888-IND-3000.

CONTACT: Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick

Press Contacts: Robert V. Andrews, 732/524-3354 or 3348 (office), 908/781-7422 (home)

Investor Relations: Helen E. Short, 732/524-6491 or Lesley Fishman, 732/524-3922 or Van Vechten & Co., Highland Beach, FL. Jay Van Vechten, 561/243-2900 (office) 561/391-615 (home)

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High-Tech Wheelchair Can Climb Steps

The Associated Press

AP-NY-07-01-99 1720EDT
NEW YORK (AP) - A new high-tech wheelchair that can easily traverse curbs, climb stairs and is rugged enough to take users on the beach is being developed by Johnson & Johnson.

The motorized device, called the Independence 3000 IBOT Transporter, could be available as early as 2001. It will sell for at least $20,000 to $25,000, slightly more than most high-end customized motorized wheelchairs.

New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J has completed testing the wheelchair with about 100 disabled people.

``I was just amazed at how easy the thing was to use,'' said George St. Hilaire, 52, of Nashua, N.H. who took part in the testing. He especially liked the chair's ability to raise him up so he could talk to other adults at eye level.

If the chair were available, he would no longer need the elevator in his house to get around. He would also return to his favorite outdoor activities, he said Thursday.

``I would take it up into the White Mountains to some hiking on the trails,'' said St. Hilaire, who has used a wheelchair since losing the use of his legs six years ago.

The wheelchair allows users to move about at eye-level while balanced on two wheels. On four wheels, it allows users to climb up and down stairs, traverse uneven and hilly terrain, and negotiate street curbs. The wheelchair uses gyroscopes and sensors to help it maintain its balance on uneven terrain.

The wheelchair, which J&J officials dub their "advanced mobility system,'' was invented by Dean Kamen, founder of privately held DEKA Research & Development Corp. of Manchester, N.H.

Kamen said the idea hit him when he stumbled stepping out of the shower about a decade ago. He figured since he recover his balance, so could a wheelchair if it was computerized to do so.

He sold J&J on the idea five years ago and has been working with the company ever since.

J&J, which sells a litany of medical devices in addition to its Band-Aids and baby powder, has never sold wheelchairs before. Two million Americans use wheelchairs; it is a $1 billion industry in the United States.

Not all of the Independence's features are unique, as several high-end wheelchair makers have seats that can go up and down and work like four-wheel drive vehicles to negotiate rough terrain.

But the Independence puts many of the most high-tech features in one wheelchair, and even competitors acknowledge the ability of the Independence to climb stairs is an incredible feat.

"That would be really cool,'' said Larry Jackson, vice president of operations for Permobil, a Swedish wheelchair maker that has U.S. operations in Boston.

Advocates for the disabled say the advance can make wheelchair users more independent.

"It's remarkable,'' said Carol Fuhrer, an official with the National Center for Disability Services, in Albertson, New York.

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Stair-Climbing Wheelchair Being Tested by J&J

By Randell Pierson

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (July 1) - A wheelchair that can climb stairs and curbs and elevate the user to normal height while traveling on two wheels is being tested by Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare giant said Thursday.

The company said it had begun testing the gyroscope-balanced chair, called the Independence 3000 IBOT Transporter, among people with disabilities in clinical trials approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

J&J said it hoped to receive FDA approval within 18 to 24 months to market the battery-powered chair.

''This wheelchair is an exciting breakthrough in accessibility. It will open a whole new world for people and give them freedom to be part of the community,'' said Arney Rosenblat, spokeswoman for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"For people with multiple sclerosis who are in wheelchairs, a curb is a high jump. This chair will level the playing field,'' Rosenblat said, adding that it could also help boost the self-esteem of disabled people.

Rosenblat said wheelchair-bound patients typically go through life looking at people's belt buckles. ''This will give them the opportunity to look eye-to-eye with anyone in the world.''

The wheelchair will be available only by prescription and will cost between $20,000 and $25,000. Each will be customized to the size, weight and ability of its user. An initial model will be for adults, with a future version is
slated for children.

''The advanced gyro-balanced system is designed to operate on four wheels or two wheels, stabilizing the user by instantly and automatically adjusting and balancing itself,'' J&J said in a statement

''Its rotating four-wheel base is designed to allow the user to climb stairs and traverse uneven and hilly terrain, such as grass, sand and rocky pathways,'' it said.

The wheelchair uses sensors to continuously and automatically adjust for movement of the seat and the user's center of gravity, with backup systems designed to assure the safety of the user in all functions.

The chair was designed by Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research & Development Corp. of Manchester, N.H. It is being developed by a newly created J&J subsidiary called Independence Technology, which will also attempt to market the wheelchair among the some two million Americans who have mobility-related disabilities.

Goldman Sachs analyst, Lawrence Keusch, said it was no surprise that J&J would develop such a futuristic wheelchair, noting the company was first to make disposable contact lenses and to develop stents, the mesh-like tubes now commonly used to reinforce weakened arteries.

J&J is a highly diversified firm that makes prescription drugs and consumer products such as Neutrogena shampoos and Tylenol painkiller.

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Last Updated: 3-2-2006

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No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WheelchairNet and the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology.

Please note: This information is provided a archival information from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheeled Mobility from 1993 to 2002.

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