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feb 17

Travel Product Concepts We're Rooting For

Skycare Chair, a prototype of an airplane-accessible wheelchair (Courtesy Chicago-based inventor Brian Liang)
Anh Nguyen's design for a Power Socket (Courtesy Yanko Design)

In the past year, teams of students, engineers, product designers, computer programmers, and entrepreneurs have been developing prototypes of inventions designed to help travelers take control of their trips.

Recognizing a need to update travel gear, innovators have been applying fresh thinking to the design of common items. We here at Budget Travel wish hotels, airlines, and the rest of the travel industry do more experimenting along these lines to improve the travel experience, such as airplane wheelchairs, GPS-powered eyewear, and smarter power adapters.

Here are a few examples of promising travel products that recently caught our eyes. Note that these are prototypes and are not yet available for sale.

The Skycare Chair

This prototype wheelchair is designed by Brian Liang for the specific constraints of airplane passengers. By placing the wheels under the chair, it enables the seat to navigate narrow aircraft aisles. A lever-based system enables a person with limited use of his or her legs to get in and out, plus propel down an aisle. The chair collapses for compact storage.

Computerized Eyewear

There's a rumor that Google is testing "Google Glasses," eyewear that can overlay on the surface of one lens relevant information about what you're seeing, such as GPS-based walking directions, according to the blog

<strong>UPDATE Feb 21.:</strong> <a href=">Big Think. A spokesperson for the company had no comment on its product testing. But whether Google is trialing computerized eyewear or not, it's only a matter of time before some major company finds away to mass produce such high-tech glasses cheaply.

UPDATE Feb 21.: The New York Times confirms talk of Google selling these glasses by year-end.

Portable Power Socket

Anh Nguyen has prototyped a universal power adapter that cleverly adjusts to geographic and domestic locations. Travelers can carry it with them and fit the metal prongs into any region’s cables, with an automatic voltage adapter built-in. Unlike existing "universal adapters," this one would be cute and come with a built-in extension cord, for easy use in hotel rooms.

Hey, manufacturers! Stop being complacent. It's time to pay attention to a new generation of designers and prototype mavens.

What products do you wish inventors would improve? Feel free to share your insights in the Comments.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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