Rollators have become very common mobility aids, and in countries like Germany and Sweden
about 4% of the population uses a rollator.

However, a significant problem with existing rollators is that people in actual need of support often
hesitate or refuse to use them. When trying to encourage someone who would clearly benefit from
the use of a rollator, you quite often hear:

- “No, I’m not that old!”
- “Never, I’m not that sick!”

Instead of seeing greater possibilities to stay physically active, people in general tend to
associate rollators with being old, ill and “handicapped”. Rather than blending in with modern
products the rollator sticks out as something “old”, which causes a stigmatizing effect.

Some innovative rollator features have been developed in recent years, for example user-friendly
folding. But the performance, comfort level and driving characteristics a standard rollator offers
when walking with it, leave a lot to be asked for. Very often problems arise outdoors when the
user needs to overcome physical obstacles or uneven ground, i.e. curbs, cobblestones, gravel,
grass, sand and snow. When compared with vehicles like bicycles, baby strollers and cars, the
rollator has not yet entered the new millennium.

The aim of iWalkActive is to offer people in need of support highly innovative and attractive
walkers with additional services, that together greatly improve the user’s mobility in an enjoyable
and motivating way. iWalkActive should encourage/enable hobbies and physical activities that
are impossible or very difficult to perform with a traditional rollator.
Why iWalkActive?
Actual end user requirements have been gathered through the following:

- Online survey completed by 254 respondents, of which the majority are end users.
- 6 focus groups including end users, potential end users, family/relatives and healthcare professionals.
- Delphi Study with 5 experts from the rollator and healthcare fields.
- 2 presentations/discussions with professionals involved in matters that especially address the living situation of
elderly people.

Through the involvement of end users and professionals, the following rollator problem areas have been
identified/confirmed as high priority;

1. Difficult to pass obstacles like curbs, rocks, etc.
2. Difficult to walk on uneven ground, for example cobble stones, gravel, etc.
3. Difficult to transport (car, bus, train, etc.).
4. Difficult to walk downhill (rollator rolling away from the user).
5. Pain or discomfort because of the rollator shaking on uneven ground.
6. Difficult to walk uphill.

When it comes to specific activities, and possible additional ICT-based services, apart from everyday life the
following areas of use have been rated as the most important according to the end users;

1. Shopping
2. Travelling / Sightseeing
3. Hiking
4. Fitness walking
Problems Identified by End Users
iWalkActive creates an active walker for active people.

An existing outdoor walker - the Veloped - is extended with an efficient, powerful e-drive, to be combined with state-of-the-art ICT technology in order to offer navigation and activity-oriented assistive services.

The e-drive offers intuitive assistance when walking on flat ground and uphill stretches, and on downhill sections it controls the speed in order to prevent the walker from rolling away. Since the e-drive reduces the force required to push the walker, the user can walk faster and longer distances. With its all-terrain ability, the user can head for areas that are inaccessable with conventional rollators.

Through the use of a smart phone or tablet PC, that can easily be attached/detached to/from the active walker, the user will enjoy a plentitude of assistive services.

These iWalkActive services will include seamless indoor/outdoor navigation, which is a novelty in itself. The user can for example navigate to a chosen goal, walk along a predetermined route, determine the position at any given time, and get tour-specific data like distance, speed and time.

In addition, the user can rely on safety features like emergency call functions and tracking of her/his position by family and friends. Community services such as the recording and rating of walking routes, and an open interface for new walking-tailored Apps down-loadable over an AppStore, enables users to share information between each other.

With its range of walkers, accessories and services, iWalkActive will offer the end user multiple options to customize the walker according to personal preferences, individual needs and specific physical activities.
iWalkActive: Solution
A complementary size L of the Veloped has already been developed as part of the iWalkActive project. A simplified version of the e-drive has been tested outdoors. Currently the human-machine interface for the e-drive is under development, with its force sensors and motor control units. The challenge lies in achieving an intuitive interface, whereby the walker acts according to the user’s intentions.

A first version of the navigation has been tested. Here the challenge is to combine/integrate the GPS-based outdoor navigation with the WLAN-based indoor navigation, so that they work seamlessly.

The additional services are in the state of definition, and they will be based upon the important user areas as recognised by the end users.
Current Technical State
The iWalkActive end user field trials will start in October 2014. But during prior lab tests, a selection of end users will also be involved. A first prototype, with all key features, is scheduled to be tested in October 2013.
End User Testing
The Unique Selling Proposition of iWalkActive is:
The active walker for active people
„My mother was 60 years old when she turned 50. I’m 40 years old when I turn 50, and my daughter will never turn 50 years old.“

The customer target group of iWalkActive are seniors.
In the Roman Empire the skilled and experienced soldiers were called seniors, but today we associate the word with experienced consultants.

The senior market is a growth market without its equal. In 2050 over 33% of the population in the western world will be over 60 years old, in Japan even more than 40%.
Today’s seniors, aged 50+, differ from earlier generations. They are active, wealthy and above all they are willing to spend money on premium products and services.

About 90% of the target group need glasses, about 25% need hearing aids, and roughly 17% suffer from physical disabilities that affect their mobility.

By offering an active and more appealing alternative to conventional rollators, the aim of iWalkActive is not only to win existing rollator users as customers, but also to win a „younger“ customer group that would never even consider to use any standard rollator available on the market today. The latter of these target groups most probably has a major but hidden potential.

The rollator market is slowly but steadily moving towards a private market. Though exact sales figures are still difficult to obtain, rollator sales in Germany are estimated to exceed 600'000 units a year.

As a 10-year strategy, iWalkActive aims to win a 10% share of the German private market, which would mean 60'000 units anually. This volume would consist of premium products, ranging from entry level models to fully-equipped and customized top level versions.

Customer Target Group
The steadily growing private rollator market will require very different strategies, resources and know-how in order to reach succesful sales, when compared to companies that have been succesful on a market subsidized by public/private healthcare and insurance companies.

Recent history has proven that new/young companies trying to enter the low-end rollator mass-market, subsidized by healthcare and insurance, find it very difficult to be competitive. In order to be competitive, iWalkActive instead aims at developing a line of pure premium walkers and additional services, fully intended for the private market.
The Norwegian rollator manufacturer Topro AS, and its success on the private market in Germany, can be seen as a good comparison when addressing competitiveness.

In 2001 Topro launched its Troja rollator on the German market, and during 2001-2009 they operated through a contracted distributor. In 2001 the Troja offered several features that stuck out from the competition; lightweight, user-friendly/compact folding, nice design, etc. After initially facing tough challenges in convincing the retailers of the prospects of selling a premium high-priced rollator, Topro has become the market leader in Germany. Since 2010 they run their own German sales operation, and the total sales in 2013 will reach an estimated 75 000 units. Topro acts solely on the private market, and currently they offer several models, of which only one is a specific outdoor rollator.

Topro has proven that a premium range of rollators is a competitive concept on the private market.
Competitive Position
Seniors prefer „real“ brands over other types. They are very suspicous about poor quality and unknown brands. The
50+ consumers offer great opportunities for serious companies with serious products.

To succeed with senior marketing requires aiming correctly and delivering products and services of great value that
meet specific needs.

The marketing message should be kept simple, and not overly complicated or full of clichés.

The new generation of seniors will lead a lifestyle that they have actively chosen, instead of accepting a simple
ageing process that finally leads to death. The products and services they will embrace and use, must fit into their
chosen lifestyle. This is especially important when it regards mobility and handicap aids, as they traditionally have
not been regarded as lifestyle products.

Based on one project partner’s seven years of experience from marketing premium walkers, an initial B2C
marketing and sales strategy, that over time is complemented with B2B, will offer a shorter way to  customer
awareness and succesful sales.

Marketing & sales strategy year 1-5:

· Specific websites/webshops for specific languages/markets.
· Internet marketing through search engine advertising (Google, Yahoo, Bing) complemented by re-marketing
(follow-up advertising on websites).
· Marketing through social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest).
· Marketing through outdoor activity events (hiking organisations, etc.).
· Marketing by actual users to customers through ambassadeurship.
· e-trade/webshop and mail order (phone/e-mail) sales.
· Highly qualified customer support for specific languages/markets.
· Generous delivery- and purchase terms (free shipping, free returns).

When positive sales and increased customer demand are reached, B2B channels like outdoor-, bicycle- and
lifestyle retailers will be approached.
In order to enter the market with iWalkActive, additional financial resources will be required for the following:

· Secured liquidity for the capacity to deliver.
· Marketing/sales infrastructure and efforts.
· Logistics solution.

Financial resources will be sought through venture capital and SME funding.
Copyright © 2016 by "iHomeLab"   ·   All Rights reserved  ·