Open Source Wheelchairs

Via Worldchanging comes this story about the Free Wheelchair Mission. They have a crazily simple design that can produce a usable wheelchair out of simple materials like lawn furniture and bicycle tire for a price of $42. Moreover, they are distributing this design openly and encouraging people to copy it in order to distribute more of these wheelchairs to people in the developing world who need them.

What if someone wants to copy your wheelchair design?
We encourage organizations to copy our design, or our passion. There are aspects of the design that we could patent, but doing so would hinder others from helping. We truly want to give a wheelchair to every human in need of one. That is a huge task, and we encourage anyone to help in any way.

This is a fabulous idea. That $42 wheelchair can for a small outlay of cash completely alter the lives of people in the poorest places on the planet. That is truly good thinking. On their website, they have a link for people who want to get involved and help. This seems like a very simple and cheap way to make many many lives substantially better.