Developing world users as lead users: A case study in engineering reverse innovation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research units

  • Singapore University of Technology and Design
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology


This paper examines the "reverse innovation" of the leveraged freedom chair (LFC), a high-performance, low-cost, off-road wheelchair originally designed for developing countries. A needs study of 71 developed world wheelchair users was conducted through three different data collection efforts. These data were contrasted with studies of 125 developing world wheelchair users, who were shown to be lead users for their developed world counterparts. The GRIT freedom chair (GFC), the developed world version of the LFC, was designed based on results of the study. By recognizing developing country users as lead users, designers can reveal latent needs and create globally disruptive innovations.


Original languageEnglish
Article number071406
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 7082726