Paul’s Story

Inspired Design

The Centaur will keep people mobile whatever their age. Paul Campbell knew restoring users’ dignity was key to its design.

As designers, we want to create positive change. But I never imagined that I would draw on my Dad’s experience with a wheelchair to inspire something that will make such a huge difference.

Bill Campbell struggled in restaurants where his wheelchair blocked the aisle. He couldn’t tuck his legs under the table. Being looked down on when you’re wheelchair bound also impacts your self-esteem.

At home, I jacked up the dining room table. But most of the kitchen was still out of reach.

Doorways were widened and rooms rebuilt. While the wheelchair gave Dad some options, it restricted him too. And it looked medical. He hated that.

After Dad died, the penny dropped. The wheelchair ignores the outside world. So instead of changing the world to fit the disabled, I designed something that fits the world, that’s the right proportions and looks good. Something that spins on a sixpence and fits into the space of a dining room chair.

The Centaur’s footplate provides a platform so you can get into it without falling over. A lifting column helps users reach high shelves and look people in the eye.

The Centaur runs on two wheels and uses self-balancing technology. It’s built with all the robust engineering principles you would expect from designers and engineers drawn from the automotive world.

The world has never seen this many ageing people before. Most of them with so much to offer, so much to live for.

I want people to live more fulfilled lives, to be proud, to be mobile. I want to end social isolation from reduced mobility.

Dad was a great designer who worked on many of Ford’s classic cars. They looked good, were stylish and desirable. That’s why I know he would’ve loved the Centaur.

Paul Campbell is design director at Centaur Robotics.

Bill Campbell (left) with his son Paul, design director at Centaur Robotics.

Bill Campbell in his wheelchair

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