Thursday, March 4, 2010

Please join this Facebook group

Save the iBOT

Monday, March 1, 2010

IT is replacing the batteries

IT is giving iBOT users new batteries. If you are an iBOT owner and you did not receive the letter, you might want to give them a call.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Have not been using my iBOT

I've been horizontal since December 7th. I had surgery on my back (to add yet more hardware) on December 7th, and then again on December 14th. I probably won't be able to use Balance or 4-Wheel Drive for about 6 months while my back heals. : ( Life has not been good to me lately.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Taking the iBOT through theft detection devices at stores

Question from a reader:

I have an unrelated iBOT question for you. The "book" says not to take the iBOT through those theft detection devices at store exits. I've obeyed this so far, but I wonder if it's an old wives tail. Any thoughts?


I asked someone at IT once. They said to not take the iBOT through them while in anything but standard function. Going through the theft detector can shut the iBOT down, resulting in it crashing from balance function to standard function. This is what I have been told, and just to be safe, I've always transitioned to standard when I go through them. I highly doubt such a thing would happen, but better safe than sorry.

Any other iBOT users have any thoughts?

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's not an iBOT, but I really like this chair

I just spoke with the guy who designed and makes these elevating wheelchairs:

Power Elevating Wheelchair


Manual Elevating Wheelchair

I'm very excited about this wheelchair because I think it's a good alternative to the iBOT. Since finding out that the iBOT will no longer be manufactured, I've worried about my future without the iBOT. I don't know how I could go back to a normal wheelchair now that I've experienced the iBOT. The chair that I've just discovered and posted links to above does not have all the features that the iBOT does. It does not climb stairs and it is not an off-road chair. It does elevate the user though, and as I've said numerous times before, being eye level with an average standing adult is the most important thing.

I'm going to call the elevating wheelchair the EW (elevating chair).

Comparing the EW and the iBOT, the following is what I like about the EW:

1.Replacing parts on the EW is easy. Parts are easily available, and it is not a complicated system, meaning just about anyone could do the work. Replacing parts on the iBOT most likely means ordering the part through Independence Technology. When the iBOT needs to be serviced, it has to be done by a trained IT tech. Average Joe can service the EW.

2.Battery life for the EW is about 5 years. Battery life for the iBOT is about 1 year.

3.Cost to replace the EW battery is $30.00. Cost to replace the iBOT batteries is $1,100.

4.Weight of the EW is 150lbs. Weight of the iBOT is nearly 300lbs.

5.The builder of the EW claims it has good shock absorption. The iBOT definitely does not have good shock absorption.

6.The EW is far more aesthetically appealing to me. I've always thought the iBOT is incredibly ugly.

7.The EW goes higher than the iBOT. My 12 year old daughter is now taller than me when I'm in Balance Function in the iBOT. I've often found myself wishing the iBOT went higher than it does.

8.The EW is very stable. The builder says it's 100% tip proof. Although I feel very safe in the Balance Function of the iBOT, it can suddenly transition out of Balance. This doesn't mean it tips over. It just means that it suddenly goes from 2 wheels to 4 wheels. This transition is not smooth. That is not a good thing for someone who lives with pain or someone with osteoporsis or an unstable spine.

Comparing the EC and the iBOT, this is what I like about the iBOT:

1.The iBOT is "cool". It just is. It's fun (usually) seeing the way people react when they see it balancing on 2 wheels.

2.The iBOT has 4 Wheel Drive Function. The EW does not have off-road capabilities.

3.The iBOT climbs curbs. The EW does not.

At this point, I would not trade my iBOT for the EW. While there are numerous things about the EW that are better than the iBOT (IMO), I do enjoy the 4 Wheel Drive and curb climbing functions quite a bit. I do think the EW might be a good alternative to the iBOT though. If my iBOT were to die tomorrow, and I had the money, I would have a serious look at the EW.

Production is 6 to 8 weeks for the EW. He has been making them for about 10 years now. Some private insurance companies are covering the cost, but like with the iBOT, Medicare is not.

If you have been thinking about purchasing a used iBOT, I think the EW is something you should consider. The cost for the manual EW is about $10,000. The cost for the power EW is $15,933. HOWEVER, there is going to be an significant increase in the cost of the EW most likely within the next couple of weeks. If the EW interests you, find out more about it now. He told me that he will hold the price at $15,933 for only another week or two. You can call him at 805-797-7989.

Buying a used iBOT

I'm going to start this entry by copying and pasting the paragraph I ended my entry with:

I should say that you shouldn't believe everything I write! I won't intentionally give false information here, but I could possibly misunderstand information that I get from calling IT. Especially now because in one week from today I'm going to be having a major surgery and I'm quite worried about it. Although I just spoke with IT less than an hour ago, I'm really not thinking clearly these days. If you have questions, it is best to call IT. They are very helpful. Their number is 1800-INDE-NOW.

IT will not service any iBOTs that are sold since they stopped production nearly a year ago. That means that you could buy a used iBOT, but IT will not service it, calibrate it, or even sell you parts. The reason for this is because they no longer have anyone to train the iBOT user. I bought my iBOT used, and they will continue to service my iBOT and sell me parts, but that is because I bought my iBOT before production stopped and I went through the training. While I am very sad for the people who have recently purchased a used iBOT, or are thinking about buying one, IT's policy makes sense to me. I know I wouldn't be comfortable using an iBOT without proper training.

I really wish I had something positive to say to those of you who recently purchased a used iBOT or who are thinking of purchasing one. Unfortunately, I believe you are simply out of luck. Unless there is a way for you to get it calibrated to your weight, I definitely would not recommend purchasing one. Also, I think trying to use the stair climbing function without proper training is a very, very bad idea. : (

Replacing the Batteries

I've had my iBOT for a little over two years now and I have not needed to replace the batteries yet. According to IT, the batteries on most iBOTs need to be replaced yearly.

The cost of the batteries is $550 each and there are two of them. New batteries come with instructions and the iBOT owner can change them on their own. If the user prefers to have an IT tech do it, they would only have to pay the service charge which is $125.00.

The battery needs to be replaced when you start getting frequent alarms. For example, I used to get a low battery alarm when it was down to one or two bars. Now I get the alarm when I'm down to 3 bars. At some point it is going to start giving me alarms when it's at 5+ bars and that is when I need to start thinking about replacing them.

More frequent deep discharges will increase the life of the battery. Also, doing a few deep discharges in a row will help. For example, I told IT that I was getting the alarm when it gets down to 3 bars. She told me that I should do 3 deep discharges in a row and that should take care of the premature alarms.

I should say that you shouldn't believe everything I write! I won't intentionally give false information here, but I could possibly misunderstand information that I got from IT. Especially now because in one week from today I'm going to be having a major surgery and I'm quite worried about it. Although I just spoke with IT less than an hour ago, I'm really not thinking clearly these days. If you have questions, it is best to call IT. They are very helpful. Their number is 1800-INDE-NOW.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Comments and Questions

I've never been anywhere in Balance Function without at least one person making a comment or asking a question. The following are some of the things I hear: (If I only heard the comment once I put a -once- behind it... No -once- means I've heard it mutliple times)

Whoa, that's so cool!

How do you do that?

Do you feel like you are going to tip over?

If someone accidently bumped you, would you tip over?

That's like the Segway.

Is that the same technology as the Segway?

I've never seen one of those before.

I saw that on TV once, but I've never seen one in real life.

How much did you pay for it?

I bet that cost you 4 to 5 thousand dollars. -once-

Are you balancing that yourself?

Is that an iBOT?

What is that called?

It's nice that it keeps you up high so you stay out of the water. -once-

Does that thing climb stairs?

I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it with my own eyes.

Is that a Dean Kamen invention? -once-

Cool, now architects won't have to worry about ramps and stuff (after I told him that climbs stairs). -once-

I want one! (Coming from a walking teenager) No really, I do! -once-

That'd be great for my dad.

How nice that you can talk to people eye to eye.

Where'd you get that?

Oh look, it even has turn signals on it! (I don't know why, but people get really excited about this. Nevermind that it is balancing on two wheels... it has turn signals!)

Are you doing that on purpose? -once- (I think this one was my all time favorite. He was drunk and he came up running to me from behind and he was very concerned.)

How fast does it go?

Have you ever tipped over?

That's good for being able to reach things up high.

How long does the charge last?

That is sick! (meaning cool)

That is so rad!

If I ever get put in a wheelchair, I want one like that! -once-

You must have incredible balance!

I'm sorry that you need a wheelchair, but since you do, it's great that you have this one!

That looks like fun!

That looks like fun but I wouldn't want to be in one for more than about 2 minutes.

I will add more as I hear them.

p.s. The most common question I get when I'm in my manual chair is, "Wanna race?" If I had a nickle for everytime I heard that one...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

iBOT air travel tips

Have you taken your iBOT on an airplane? And if so, how did it go?

A few months after I got my iBOT I went to Disneyland with my daughter, mother, and sister. I wanted to take my iBOT but I was worried about two things.

1. The airlines are notorious for messing up power chairs. I've never traveled with a power chair, but I've read numerous stories about the damage done to other people's chairs. I don't doubt the stories one bit. I know that when I travel with my manual, it often comes back to me not quite the same as it was before I surrendered it to the baggage handlers.

2. Transportation from airport to hotel. The iBOT does not fit in the trunk of taxi cabs.

I debated for a long time about taking my iBOT or my manual. I ended up taking my manual. If I were to do it again, I'd take my iBOT.


I make almost all of my purchases on one credit card. Over the years I've accumalated enough points for 2 free airline tickets to Europe. I'm thinking about taking my daughter to Barcelona during 2010 spring break. I admit that I'm concerned about the airlines breaking the bot, but traveling with the bot is one of the reasons I bought it in the first place.

If and when my daughter and I go to Europe, I'm taking the iBOT.

Honestly, if I didn't have the iBOT, I doubt I would even plan a trip to Europe.

I've been to Europe in a manual chair, but that was when I was in my early 20s and there was always young strong men to help me with any obstacle I might come across. Now that I'm middle aged, the young 'uns ain't so eager to help. At 20 years old, I would be offered help before I knew I needed it. At 39, I often have to ask for it, and the older I get, the less comfortable I am doing that.

If and when we go, I'll also take my manual in case something did happen to the iBOT. Getting to Barcelona with a broken wheelchair and no back-up wouldn't be much fun.

Copied from Independence Technologies here are some air travel tips:

We are providing you with some air travel tips that can help make your exploration to new locations smoother. Preparation is the key to success, so please review the following tips to guide you in your travel.

Notify airlines that you’ll be taking your iBOT® Mobility System and discuss loading/placement on the plane. If asked about the iBOT® Mobility System’s folded dimensions, please provide the following:
Length: 32 - 36 in. (without legrest)
Width: 25 - 29 in (dependent on armrest position)
Height: 44 in (Non-fold flat seat) 29 in (Fold-flat seat)
Approx. Weight: 289 lbs unoccupied
Recommend removing all removable components to prevent damage i.e. leg rests, cushion (if removable), User Control Panel, and place in a separate bag. (Note: Make sure when you are re-attaching the UCP Cable with the UCP, you line up the keyed features between the UCP Cable and the UCP. Once in position rotate the collar a quarter turn to lock the UCP Cable in place.)
It is recommended that you protect any of the plastic components to prevent damage:
UCP Cable- Wrap the connector with bubble wrap and tuck it into the swingarm to protect it.
Back Shroud containing the reflectors and Assist Button-Wrap some foam padding around it to protect from unwanted damage.
Instruct the airline carrier on how to release and engage the brake lever and move the product. Point out the tie-down points for attachment inside the plane. Remember to bring your travel placard along and tape it to the product in order to educate your arrival airport attendants!
If the airlines recommend battery removal, point out the batteries are bolted onto the device, they are NiCad batteries (not lead acid, they are "dry cell"), and they are not operable unless powered ON, which is prevented by removing the UCP.
Depending on your travel location and the terrains you may encounter, it is recommended that you take a few spare tubes and tires. It is better to be prepared.
*One of our world traveler owners reported using an oversized raincoat to wrap around the iBOT® Mobility System to help protect the seat upholstery when in the cargo area of the plane.

Friday, May 29, 2009