Small Markets in Assistive Technology: Obstacles and Opportunities
While the inherently small market for assistive technology (AT) can be a significant hurdle in the development of AT solutions, small markets can also provide opportunities to foster technology innovation under the right circumstances. Focusing on the wheelchair industry, I summarize the numerous obstacles that small companies face in trying to address small AT markets, as well as the range of opportunities available to assist small companies in their efforts to impact the quality of life of those with disabilities. Indeed, small market AT may be a perfect fit for the growing field of “small batch” manufacturing in combination with motivated individuals suddenly empowered by a host of new technologies. I close with a brief discussion of future possibilities for AT in small markets.
KeywordsSupply Chain Venture Capital Assistive Technology Large Market Small Company
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
The following individuals have each contributed AT innovations to the marketplace: Murray Slagerman of Ki Mobility LLC, Dr. Arthur Prochazka of the University of Alberta, Dr. Mark Richter of Max Mobility LLC, and Harry Lew of the Neil Squire Society. I would like to thank them for their very helpful comments on this chapter.
- 1.Anderson C (2008) The long tail. Hyperion, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 2.Anderson C (2010) In the next industrial revolution, atoms are the new bits. Wired Magazine. http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/01/ff_newrevolution/
- 3.Baldwin J, Gray T, Johnson J, Proctor J, Rafiquzzaman M, Sabourin D (1997) Failing concerns: Business bankruptcy in Canada. Tech. Rep. 61-525-XPE, Statistics Canada, Micro-Economic Analysis Division, Ottawa, ONGoogle Scholar
- 4.Cooper R (1998) Wheelchair selection and configuration. Demos Medical Publishing, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 5.Cooper R (2006) Wheelchair standards: It’s all about quality assurance and evidence-based practice. Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine 29(2):93–94Google Scholar
- 6.Cooper RA, Cooper R, Boninger M (2008) Trends and issues in wheelchair technologies. Assistive Technology 20(2):61–72Google Scholar
- 7.Ladner R (2010a) Personal communicationGoogle Scholar
- 8.Ladner R (2010b) Accessible technology and models of disability. In: Oishi M, Mitchell IM, Van der Loos H (eds) Design and Use of Assistive Technology, pp 23–29. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
- 9.Shepard DS, Karen SL (1984) The market for wheelchairs: Innovations and federal policy. Health Technology Case Study 30, Congress of the United States, Office of Technology Assessment, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar