Make This Product: MIT Students Fix Wheelchair Shopping with “Grocery Mate”

Grocery Mate

Grocery shopping in a wheelchair isn’t easy–it requires either holding a cart on your lap or zipping around in a store-owned basket-attached scooter (and leaving the regular wheelchair at the front of the store). Students in MIT’s Product Engineering Processes class have a better idea: the Grocery Mate, a basket that attaches to wheelchairs and holds up to 40 pounds worth of items. It’s so simple, we’re surprised no one thought of commercializing it before.

The Grocery Mate consists of a customizable clamp that attaches to the wheelchair frame, a bracket that fits on the clamp, and a collapsible plastic basket that slides into a bar on the bracket. The basket swings out to allow users to grab items from shelves.

The device, which can be set up in as little as 30 seconds, costs approximately $80 to build. The MIT students behind Grocery Mate imagine that it could be sold for $200.

The Grocery Mate isn’t the only creative device to come out of this year’s Product Engineering Processes class. Other prototypes include a device for health clubs that washes, sterilizes, and refills water bottles; a consumer-oriented system that quickly measures flour; and an efficient egg-washing system for small chicken farms.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.AS