Gecko Traxx <em>Gecko Traxx </em>designed 2018–20; ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber. Courtesy of Gecko Traxx<br/>
© Ryan Tilley and Huy Nguyen. Photo: Ryan Tilley

Gecko Traxx

Gecko Traxx
(est. 2018, Melbourne)

Gecko Traxx’s mission is to make the great outdoors more accessible for wheelchair users. Founded by design engineer Ryan Tilley and engineer Huy Nguyen (a wheelchair user himself), the concept began as Tilley’s final-year project at RMIT University.

Gecko Traxx, 2018–20, is a robust and compact wheelchair accessory that enables easy off-road access for manual wheelchair users. From personal experience using wheelchairs, Nguyen knew firsthand that existing options for visiting the beach were expensive, cumbersome and difficult to access. The design solution is a flexible set of tyres that wraps securely around a wheelchair’s existing on-road tyres. Akin to a hiking boot, the product gives users immediate off-road capability when encountering challenging terrains like sand, snow, soft grass and gravel. The tyre’s unique cross-section, which was inspired by the spreading motion of gecko feet, expands three times in contact with the ground, before quickly returning to its thin profile. This design ensures the tyre does not impede upon the push rim or interfere with the wheelchair frame. Designed for portability and ease, the lightweight accessory can be carried inside a small backpack and features an integrated clip that allows users of various abilities to fit the tyres without transferring out of their wheel-chair. For some Gecko Traxx users, the device has allowed them to access the beach for the first time.

In 2019, Gecko Traxx won the Next Gen: Social Impact, and Next Gen: Product Design prizes from the Australian Good Design Awards, and was the Australian winner and international runner-up in the James Dyson Award. The product was selected for the Melbourne Accelerator Program in 2019, and the Foundation for Young Australians’ Young Social Pioneer mentorship program in 2018.

Tilley holds a Bachelor of Engineering and Industrial Design from RMIT University, was named the Most Outstanding Graduate in Industrial Design in 2018, and was nominated as Graduate of the Year by the Design Institute of Australia. Nguyen holds a Bachelor of Systems Engineering (Manufacturing, Management, Mechanics and Materials) from the Australian National University (2010) and was the ACT’s Young Australian of the Year in 2014.