Piomo, the inflatable electric scooter/wheelchair, was unveiled earlier this year as a collaborative effort between Kawahara and Niiyama labs of the University of Tokyo, along with mercari R4D of Mercari inc. Now they’ve revealed a follow-up design, which can be tailored and custom-made to accommodate the way you like to sit.
The process seems to be based around photographing yourself in a sitting pose, inputting that posture data into a special program, which then provides a rough outline of the shape your own personal Poimo needs to be. You then get some power to further customize and tweak the design, including the colours, and that final design is what Poimo will send you. Finally assemble and inflate it at home, and you’ll have this peculiar – but presumably very comfortable – balloon animal to ride around on to your heart’s content. The whole process is laid out below in a (slightly obtuse) video from the ERATO Kawahara UIN Project.
It’s a fascinating project with a lot of theoretical advantages over traditional electric scooters. Soft materials are usually safer than hard ones, easier to carry around, and they open up a whole new range of aesthetics for manufacturers and designers to play with. And, of course, the easy alteration allows for users of any body shape and posture. As somebody who slouches so much they keep their vertebrae in their socks, I wouldn’t object to an EV that could be shaped to accommodate that. Making EVs accessible has been a big part of recent industry movements, but that needs to go beyond only making them cheaper or less designed for tech nerds. Keeping varying body shapes in mind is a good direction to take things, and though Poimo isn’t widely available right now, it’ll be a better world whenever it is.