‘Zeen’ is a homage to ‘Draisine’ — the proto-bicycle invented by Baron von Drais in 1816. Draisines had a saddle and handlebars but no pedals. Riders coasted along by striding on the ground and by all accounts it was exhilarating. The Zeen clearly needed more than two wheels (see the next Q!), and the pair at the rear became our patented ‘dual-state’ casters for controlled four-wheel steering.
Zeening is likewise exhilarating!
Who needs Zeen and why?
With a Zeen one can safely walk and coast even if challenged by age, injury or disease. The Zeen is for people at risk of falling or those who walk perfectly well but get tired.
It’s for those who use walkers and just plain hate the things.
It’s for wheelchair users who gave up walking prematurely because of fatigue or risk.
It’s for anyone who is determined to stay upright and put off that one-way decent to non-ambulation.
With our proprietary lifting technology, the Zeen ‘floats’ any desired percentage of your weight, so it’s hugely helpful for those who have difficulty getting up on their feet!
How does the Zeen work? What are its functions and controls?
The Zeen is essentially a big comfortable saddle surrounded by four agile wheels. Once you pre-set your inseam length and desired amount of lift, the saddle will effortlessly raise you up to standing, walking and ‘barstool’ position and gently lower to become a comfortable chair.
Zeens have only two controls — Seat-Height Lock and Brakes.
You can stand, or walk with all your weight on the ground and the loosely fastened lap-belt and saddle-prow will still positively keep you safe.
Leaning back slightly and edging onto the wide part of the saddle allows you to ‘stride’ — to scoot easily over the ground and coast. Coasting covers a lot of ground and is surprisingly fun.
Your stride directs the Zeen where you want to go and, with no conscious effort, the chassis swivels and follows!
When coasting, one can also steer by applying either the left or right brake to influence your direction, and the brakes can easily bring you to a stop.
Where and when will the Zeen be available for sale?
Beta versions of the ‘Residential’ Zeen may be available on a limited basis by late 2019, and Lightweight Folding models may soon follow — initially, direct from our new factory in West Chester, PA, and eventually from dealers around the world.
Compare the features and benefits of present and future Zeen models and their optional accessories.
‘Residential’ Zeens are sturdy, non-folding, customizable versions meant for use in ElderCare and Rehab institutions and Hospitals. They can be accessorized with specialized armrests, safety restraints and hidden fold-out trays, etc.
‘Lightweight Folding’ Zeens are exactly that: easy to lift and instantly foldable to fit behind seat backs and in trunks, and one version will even fold to fit into a duffel for air travel. Yet both Lightweights will be as functional as the big Residential units and include proprietary Exokinetic lifting technology to ‘float’ people weighing from 70 to 300 lbs.
All Zeens come with mandatory seatbelts and can be ridden and steered hands-free.
Eyes-closed, both Residential and Lightweight versions feel and ride exactly alike and both actively prevent falls.
Residential Zeens are knob-adjustable to set the amount of lift. Lightweight Zeens adjust lift either by knob or by pin-locating an appropriate lifting range.
All Zeens allow pre-setting max lift height to equal the user’s inseam length.
Future Pediatric and Bariatric Zeens will similarly ‘equipois’ their small and large riders and empower walking, gliding, sitting and standing without the danger of falls.
Compare the projected specifications of the Residential and Lightweight Zeen models.
The Residential Zeen weighs over 40 pounds and is robustly designed for continuous institutional and rehab use.
Lightweight Zeens are projected to weigh just over 20 lbs and be easy to lift, fold and stow in vehicles. All Zeen models are about as wide and as tall as ‘rollators’ but have slightly longer wheelbases. One Lightweight Zeen model folds 50% narrower than a rollator!
What are the physical, psychological and social advantages of using Zeen vs. walkers and wheelchairs?
Unlike walkers and wheelchairs, Zeens do not stigmatize the rider. They are cool. They are both ‘active furniture’ and a mode of transport. Compared to walkers, Zeens are safe, comfortable and fast and do not have to be set out of the way when you arrive at the dinner table. (Nor do they have to be retrieved in order to get back to the buffet for dessert!).
For those who gave up walkers because of falls or fatigue, Zeen offers a pleasant and safe extension of one’s walking ability and overall health, since remaining upright is strikingly beneficial for your cardiac, circulatory, muscular, digestive, limbic and psychological fitness!
Not to mention the social benefits of standing among one’s peers vs. looking up from seated limbo. (see ‘Bar-stool mode’ below!)
How do you transition on and off your Zeen from low beds, chairs, toilets, etc.?
The Zeen is typically mounted standing, by touching the handlebars (or extended armrests) and backing onto the saddle. Transfer techniques to and from beds, toilets and chairs vary according to user capability, however it’s physically and socially beneficial to effect such maneuvers without the help of caregivers.
With brakes engaged, one may transfer solo between bed or toilet in one of two ways: either sliding laterally with the Zeen in sitting position; or rising vertically, by using the lifting abilities of the Zeen to help you up. Once standing, you can turn and back onto the saddle as usual.
How maneuverable is a Zeen and how much space does it take up in your home?
Phenomenally maneuverable. All Zeens sport patented ‘Dual-State Casters’ for perfect forward tracking, uncanny four-wheel steering and effortless lateral and rearward motion.
Both Residential and Lightweight Zeens occupy about as much floor-space as a rollator or wheelchair — and the Lightweight Folding models can be instantly collapsed to take up as little as 8” of space next to a wall.
What is ‘Barstool Mode’ and why do people love it?
‘Barstool Mode’ is at the appealing heart of Zeening. It’s when you come to a standing stop in the midst of a social gathering, put your feet on the footrests, shift back on the saddle and join the crowd!
Instead of being isolated on a wheelchair with your head at waist-height, you are up at full eye-level with both hands free, joining the conversation in the warmth of human conviviality, with perfect ease and no jeopardy of falling.
How does ‘Zeening’ compare as personal transportation vs. ambulating with a walker or hand-rolling a wheelchair?
Zeening is easier, faster and safer than ‘walker-ing’ and can keep up with an energetic wheel-chair user, plus it’s less tiring than either and way more social, since encounters along the way are at eye height and with nothing mechanical in between you and your friends.
What benefits do people most enjoy when Zeening?
Our initial Zeen trials indicate that people immediately like feeling ‘fall-proof.’ They like that the Zeen is both their mode of travel and their comfy chair, with no dangerous transition. They love the relative rapidity and ease of coasting. They cherish the face-to-face quality of human interactions. They love being able to pop up and down from a seated position with no strain or effort. And they particularly like not having to set aside and keep track of a walker or wheelchair while dining.
Those initial few who had had access to a Zeen at home report happily cooking, working, cleaning, doing the wash, reaching into closets and cabinets, etc. with no contraption in the way!
“There’s nothing ahead of you — nothing ‘in your space’ — and what’s behind is invisible… follows you like a ghost!”
One old gentleman even mentioned the ease of putting on his pants!
Describe the various ways Zeen may be important for rehab — and who may benefit.
Rehab protocols include those involving mobility and those related to other aspects of life. Many rehabilitation accessories and safety features are adaptable to the inherently safe and dramatically mobile Zeen platform, so patients can be more independent and therapists are freed up to attend to other tasks.
Can any Zeen model be used during showering?
Yes. The Lightweight Zeens will be functionally water-proof. By covering the saddle with the included ‘shower-cap’ and using your seatbelt, you can step into any walk-in shower with room to turn around and your Zeen will let you soap up and rinse, with zero risk of slipping, sliding and falling.
Are there any hazards to watch out for when Zeening?
Yes. Certainly. As with any human activity, excess exuberance or carelessness can be dangerous. One would have to work much harder to tip over a Zeen than a walker or wheelchair, but a certain amount of caution is prudent:
You can safely lean as far forward, backward or sideways as you like, but don’t, for example, back up rapidly in Barstool Mode without scouting in advance for obstacles that might trip you up.
When walking uphill or down, slightly lower your saddle height so your feet maintain contact with the ground. Likewise when stepping on or off a curb. Either is easy if you first lower the Zeen saddle about as much as curb height. Then negotiate the curb in a standing position, stepping up or down while appropriately lifting up or lowering the front of the Zeen. The rear wheels will simply follow up and over as they get to the curb.
When approaching ramps, hills and curbs, lower the saddle height; and keep both hands on the brake levers when coasting! In fact, don’t ever coast downhill at high speed! If you encounter a slope, up, down or sideways, just walk — with the saddle lowered enough to give you good traction — and keep your hands on the brake levers Bringing the Zeen along with you will not be difficult and it will continue to protect you from falls!
Can Zeen go up or down steps?
That’s a tough one. We’re working on that of course, but don’t try it with your Zeen!
Can a Zeen be used outdoors? What about hills, curbs, rough ground, rain, snow, ice, high wind, etc.?
See ‘hazards’ above for tips on hills and curbs. Lightweight or Residential Zeen models with pneumatic tires can definitely be of use outdoors, even on gentle hills if you have the core strength to propel them up over rough ground.
Even if unsteady at ambulating, such as from disease or stroke, the Zeen will still protect you from falling unless you undertake a hill that’s too steep for braking or a side slope that’s too extreme for the walking ability you retain. (Common sense and your accumulating Zeen experience will be your reliable guide.)
Rain is no particular obstacle if the ground is smooth since Lightweight Zeens are waterproof, and with a seatbelt it’s easy enough to devote one hand to your umbrella.
We would definitely not recommend riding a Zeen in snow, ice or high wind.
-Which Zeen can be stowed in a car? Which Zeen can be taken aboard a plane as carry-on?
The Residential Zeen can fit into a station wagon if locked into seat mode, but it’s a heavy and awkward so infirm users will definitely need help.
Both Lightweight models are remarkably easy to lift but they fold quite differently. We have provisionally called them the ‘Sports Utility Zeen’ (SUZ) and the ‘Lightweight Compact’ Zeen (LC). The former folds laterally with one upward pull to be 8” wide by 35” tall by 35” long. The latter folds much more compactly — to an extraordinary 35" x 12" x 12" that will fit into a bag for air travel.