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WARREN, RI, April 04, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Ron Rantilla Rowing Systems has been building a revolutionary new rowing system for rowers who want a better way to row their boats. Now the FrontRower has been nominated for the prestigious da Vinci Award for assistive technology and universal design.
The annual international da Vinci Awards were created by the MS Society (multiple sclerosis) to recognize the most innovative developments in assistive technology and universal design.
"Universal Design" is the concept of designing products that work well for individuals across a broad spectrum of abilities--from athletes in training to individuals with a limited range of motion.
The FrontRower fits universal design criterion because:
1. The FrontRower is designed to be more comfortable, efficient and easier to use than conventional rowing systems -- making it attractive to mainstream rowers who row their boats for exercise, touring or adventure rowing.
2. It's forward facing position makes it usable by people who may not be agile enough to twist around to see where they are going.
3. It can be operated by any two limbs (arms or legs), making it usable by people with arm or leg disabilities without any modifications. This also makes it useful for photography and fishing.
4. It's designed to fit in ordinary canoes, so someone who already owns a canoe will not need to buy another boat.
According to Ron Rantilla, inventor of the system, "The FrontRower was designed form the ground up with practicality and the comfort of the user in mind. Most rowing in this country is driven by the "sport" of rowing, which is racing in rowboats. This has led to rowing boats (also known as "sculls") that are not very user friendly."
Rantilla says he conceived of the FrontRower because he wanted a rowing system that could be used in his canoe for solo camping trips off the coast of Maine.
According to Rantilla, "Solo paddling a loaded canoe can be difficult, especially in the wind. I wanted the power of a pair of oars and the ability to use my leg muscles. A forward facing position was essential, and comfort and efficiency were high on my list of priorities.
"I was working as an engineer at the time, and started designing my own rowing system just for fun in my spare time. Once I had the main arrangement worked out, it became apparent that I could easily add features like automatic feathering and hands free rowing. These features make rowing more enjoyable for mainstream rowers and are especially useful for people with disabilities. The system is very efficient, because it uses moving pedals instead of a sliding seat to develop leg power. To test the system out, I installed it in a popular sculling boat and entered some races. I found that I could outperform identical sculling boats with conventional rigs. I even broke a couple of course records. I started selling rowing systems to my friends and then at boat shows and over the internet. Now I build them full time."
More details about the FrontRower can be found at Rantilla's website: http://www.frontrower.com.
The winners of the da Vinci Award will be announced at an Academy Awards style gala at the Ford Conference and Event Center in Dearborn, MI on April 11, 2013.
Rantilla will be attending the Awards and will be giving on-the-water demonstrations the following day (Friday, April 12, 2013) at noon at Lake St. Clair Metropark, 31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Township, MI 48045. Anyone in the area who is interested in trying it out is invited to come.
All of the finalist (there are three each in 5 different categories) have videos posted on the MS Society's YouTube channel. If you are interested in assistive technology and universal design you should check them out.
Proceeds from the da Vinci Awards benefit the National MS Society, Michigan Chapter and support their mission to create a world free of MS. Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.1 million people worldwide. The da Vinci Awards help build awareness of the importance of universal design technology and hopefully will bring even more life-improving technologies to the masses.
To find out more about the awards and about MS you can visit the da Vinci Awards website here: http://www.davinciawards.org.
Ron Rantilla Rowing Systems builds state-of-the-art forward facing rowing systems for canoes and rowboats. They also sell rowboat plans and kits. Website: http://www.frontrower.com.
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