personal mobility device whill wins 2015 japan GOOD DESIGN grand award
personal mobility device whill wins 2015 japan GOOD DESIGN grand award
nov 09, 2015

personal mobility device whill wins 2015 japan GOOD DESIGN grand award

personal mobility device whill wins 2015 japan GOOD DESIGN grand award 
all images courtesy of whill





grand winner of the 2015 japan GOOD DESIGN award, japanese company whill tackled the slow evolution of personal mobility. the success of the small team is based on introducing unique electronic technology for mass production with a design that is futuristic and follows the user’s perspective.


video courtesy of CNN money




‘we realized that many people desired this kind of innovation in the mobility industry,’ explains satoshi sugie, whill co-founder, and CEO. ‘our mission is to make technology that is minimalistic, functional and stylish. we intend to fundamentally change the attitudes of personal mobility users, as well as the general perceptions of personal mobility.’

whill-personal-mobility-wheell-chair-designboom-01the whill offers a completely customizable electronic package for a variety of different users




all the components are powered by two 12 volt batteries, that offer the whill a range of 20 kilometers of travel and speeds of up to 6 km/h. the ability to go anywhere is in the details of wheels – the front tires are comprised of 24 smaller ones that rotate on the spot for omni-directional (side mobility with 360-degree rotation) versatility. furthermore, all four wheels are powered to overcome steps as high as 7.5 centimeters and can handle narrow alleyways, gravel, and grass without a problem. 


the whill’s terrain coverage
video courtesy of whill




people with disabilities feel more uneasy and risk higher odds of injury when traveling shorter distances. the designers at whill, focused on the failures found in old wheelchair layouts and presented a modern ride, that combines both intuitive controls and comfortable use. the seat height, angle, length, as well as the foot support and arm rests are all alterable at delivery to fit the individual. tilting the joystick manages the directions, and side buttons offer the flexibility to accommodate a variety of comfort settings. the arm rests and seat have adjustment settings, where users can lift and slide for appropriate circumstances. the seating area glides to a maximum of 15 cm forward for shortening distances between beds and tables.


the expanded horizons of the whill
video courtesy of whill




whill incorporated a software component where using an application on a smartphone adds remote control possibilities. the mobility chair with its bluetooth connectivity, responds to adjusted speeds and turning commands from a mobile device for added easy-to-use functionality. this changes the dynamic between the person in the mobility device and the aide because there’s no need to stand behind for guiding. this will fundamentally change the feelings of the users, as well as the general awareness of personal mobility.


video courtesy of whill



all-direction prototype wheel demo
video courtesy of whill  



behind the scenes with the designers of the whill
video courtesy of whill


whill-personal-mobility-wheell-chair-designboom-02the adjustable arm rests

whill-personal-mobility-wheell-chair-designboom-06the remote control smartphone application 

whill-personal-mobility-wheell-chair-designboom-03the joystick interface  
whill-personal-mobility-wheell-chair-designboom-04the final design of the front wheels feature 24 smaller tires for tough terrain



the whill personal mobility device is the winner of the 2015 japan GOOD DESIGN grand award, presented during tokyo designers week 2015.


the GOOD DESIGN award was founded in 1957 by the japanese ministry of international trade and industry and is hosted by the japan institute for design promotion. the ‘g mark’ emblem reflects comprehensive design values and principles that aim to enrich lives, industries and society. 





  • muito bom….

    Silvia Queiroga Reis
  • dear iddo gruengard,
    thank you for reading us and thank you for your comment. I understand that the previous version of this article focused on the more joyful design aspects and that designboom took for granted practical considerations. I asked our editor to add a few videos to the article that tackle the problems mentioned by you. I hope this new version of the article can answer your questions.

    birgit lohmann (editor-in-chief designboom)
  • As a paraplegic architect in a wheelchair, when I see an ad sir a wheelchair which is not using people with disabilities:

    1. I think the product is not really suitable for people with disability which have mobility problems and lack of stability. The ad does not prove it does.
    2. I think it is a disgrace.

    Other than that, aesthetically the chair looks nice, but we do not see it go on hard terrain. Both terrains outside and in the store are flat, easy to manoeuvre terrains which I can easily ride on my wheelchair. So what is so special about the new wheel. Prove it.

    Iddo Gruengard

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