Dakota State University in Madison is reporting its first patent.  Dr. Justin Blessinger, director of the AdapT Lab at Madison Cyber Labs (MadLabs) and a professor of English at DSU, has been granted a provisional patent for an assistive technology device.  

The device, currently called a Power Block, draws power from the batteries of a powered wheelchair or mobility scooter. Allowing both 5-volt and 12-volt access, this device allows users to charge smartphones, power nebulizers, or even use heated lunch boxes. There are also iterations in the provisional patent which will allow for future device designs, including the ability to easily charge the chair.

The idea for the device came from a discussion between Blessinger and colleague Dr. Chris Olson, who uses a powered wheelchair. Olson needed a way to keep his cell phone charged, and power a heated scarf he uses in colder weather.  Blessinger began design development, creation, and testing independently at first, through a business of his own, TransForm Accessibility.

This fall the AdapT Lab received an i6 federal/state partnership grant which allowed a partnership between TransForm Accessibility and the AdapT Lab, to investigate ways to bring the product to market. By utilizing the resources of the university, the process was able to move more quickly and get the device into people’s hands sooner, so he has shared the intellectual property with the university.

 The next steps will be to produce and sell the Power Block, either through a manufacturing partner,  or through TransForm Accessibility with the help of capital investors.