The Ogo Evolution 1 is Just a Toy

The Ogo Evolution 1 has been making the rounds on Cripple Tumblr for a while. Now, I’ve never used one (you have to make a special appointment), but its features can easily be discovered just by reading the marketing materials.

For those of you who may not be familiar with it, here’s one of their promotional videos:

Despite all the fancy shots of people in wheelchairs shopping, enjoying the outdoors, or even watching their able‐bodied friends kayak (seriously, watch the video), it fails to meet even the most basic expectations of your average power chair user.

It Lacks the Basic Body Support Many Power Chair Users Need

From the site FAQ:

quote: Most users find that they don’t need armrests. The Active Seat Control does all the work and keeps them very secure. Nevertheless, some people will want armrests. The team may in the future, look at a range of adjustable and removable armrests and back supports. end quote

In addition to lacking armrests, there don’t appear to be any kind of chest, lap, or waist restraints that someone with a lack of core control might need for support.

It Has Terrible Ground Clearance

From the site FAQ:

quote:

If the Ogo comes across an obstacle that it is unable to handle say over 50 mm/2 inch. The machine would stay balanced but keep trying to go in the direction you are pointed. It would then give you warning vibrations to let you know you are pushing the machine to do something beyond what it is capable.

We recommend that if you are traveling at high speed in an off‐road environment, you use the All‐Terrain or Turf wheels (in the Off‐Road Kit). These reduce the impact of rocks/bumps/etc and make for a much smoother ride.

end quote

So, if the Ogo encounters an obstacle a little shorter than a golf tee, you’re fucked. But don’t worry, if you buy their separate off‐road kit (for $350), you’ll be just fine.

The Off‐road Kit Doesn’t Fit Through Doors

From the site FAQ:

quote:

The Ogo will go through standard household doorways, which are typically 28‐30 inches, or 710‐760mm.

Ogo specs: Standard tyres: Width — 630 mm / 25.2 inches. All‐terrain kit — 830 mm / 32.7 inches.

The All‐Terrain wheels (that come in the Off‐Road Kit) will likely not fit through standard household doors.

More information about the Ogo Specifications can be found on the Ogo Evolution 1 page.

end quote

So let me get this straight: If I want to go over any kind of mildly uneven terrain, I need to get the off‐road kit. But if I want to fit through a standard doorway after my trek over a rough sidewalk, I need to switch back to the standard kit?

Slipper When Wet

From the site FAQ:

quote: The Ogo is near impossible to tip over. The only way this would happen would be if the tyres loose traction with the ground, for example on a wet, steep slope. end quote

for example on a wet, steep slope. So, most of Seattle then? Are they saying that it’s ability to climb a 25‐degree incline is hindered by water and that there’s a risk that the whole thing (75kg/154lbs) might tip over?

It Costs as Much as a Fucking Car

According to the reservation page, the proposed price is nearly $17,000. This price does not include:

  • Freight to your door
  • Import tarrifs (if any)
  • Customs clearance fees
  • Local sales/customer tax
  • Marine insurance (covers shipping to your door)

For reference, a 2019 Honda Fit has an MSRP of $16,999. For the cost of an Ogo before it even reaches your house, you could drive a brand‐new car off the lot today.

And the creators of the Ogo know how insanely expensive it is because they actively encourage you to crowd‐fund the money for it. From the site FAQ:

quote: An Ogo is ideal for crowd‐funding friends, family, interest groups or public campaigns. There are a number of foundations and charities that will assist and service groups such as Rotary and Lions may also be able to help. We have heard of charities running competitions (for an Ogo). One of our Ogo agents has arranged an unsecured lending facility on very reasonable terms through a reputable funder. Your own local finance company or bank may be able to help too! end quote

I looked into that lending facility the FAQ mentioned (Lightstream) and decided to do a little math. If you got a loan for just the base cost of the chair (roughly seventeen grand) at the lowest rate (8.54%) and for the longest term they offered (72 months), the chair would end up costing you $98,596.04 with an estimated monthly payment of $114.12. And the real kicker is, it’s not actually a wheelchair.

It’s Not Actually A Wheelchair

According to the FAQ, the Ogo is not a medical device. The Ogo is a personal mobility device. You know what else is a personal mobility device? A goddamn unicycle.

The creators of Ogo are aware of this and state on their website:

quote: Some countries or jurisdictions have restrictions on where such devices can be used. It is the buyers’ responsibility to check their jurisdiction’s regulations. end quote

If you decide to replace your wheelchair with an Ogo, you run the risk of being denied entry to areas that disallow bicycles and you might even have to wear a helmet.

Having a mobility device qualify as a medical device grants a whole host of legal and consumer protections that don’t apply to generic personal mobility devices and you can forget about any insurance plan covering the cost.

It Doesn’t Solve Any Real Problems Facing Disabled People Today

There are a myriad of problem that power chair users face, especially as chairs get older and start to wear down. I would love to see a company create things like batteries that are lighter and last longer; a more robust electrical system that is water resistant and less prone to shorts and outages; or a drive system that is smoother and more maneuverable when using a joystick. And then I want them to lobby insurance companies to cover these advancements as standard equipment.

Instead, we got the Ogo Evolution 1, a toy masquerading as a mobility aid. I really wish this company had put its amazing engineering team to work solving problems in wheelchairs disabled folks use every day and already own instead of trying to get them to drop tens of thousands of dollars on a device no one really needs.