“Simply being in a wheelchair is a health issue. If you’re moving, you’re healthier.”

Michael Bayne with model

Rota Mobility’s models are manufactured at San José’s A&J Precision Sheetmetal, Inc., which is owned and operated by another SJSU grad, Suki Atwal, kinesiology, and his father Amrik. Photo: David Schmitz

Michael Bayne, ’05 Industrial Technology/Business Operations, ’09 MBA/MSC, is a tinkerer. Just like a few other Silicon Valley innovators, he began building prototypes for a new kind of wheelchair in his parents’ garage. He recently founded his company, Rota Mobility, with his father, a local semiconductor entrepreneur.

The inspiration for the “rowing” wheelchair “came from empathy,” says Bayne. His father’s cousin has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair. “He wasn’t getting around much, and when you’re not getting around, your physical health and wellbeing decline.”

The chair’s bio-mechanically efficient and non-injurious push–pull propulsion—which offers both utility and healthy activity—earned him a win at the Neat Ideas Fair as an undergrad. As an alumnus, he used the $10,000 prize from the university’s business plan competition to pay for his prototypes. Manufactured in San José, the latest models are sleek and fun options for getting healthy. An ultra-light wheelchair is great for daily use, “but wheelchair users need their ‘running shoes,’ if you will,” says Bayne. “People in wheelchairs have a hard time going to the park or out for coffee. Our wheelchairs make such activities much easier and accessible for them.”

Rota Mobility Model


Read more and see Rota Mobility’s RoTrike, RoChair and RoScooter models in action [VIDEO].

Jody Ulate

Jody Ulate, '05 MA English, is editor of the Washington Square blog and printed alumni magazine.

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