Ford Fiesta or Golf Buggy? We should have more choice than this!

Here in North Cornwall lies the sandy haven of Bude. Whilst walking the coastal footpath near the town’s magnificent sea-pool we saw a woman in some form of four-wheel drive wheelchair tearing over the dunes. She appeared to have absolutely no fear traveling at what must have been full speed. At ‘Dare To Be Purple’ we love talking to anyone with a ‘Purple’ attitude so this was a woman we definitely wanted to meet!

We eventually managed to catch up with her and she kindly stopped for a chat. It turned out she was testing the wheelchair for the manufacturer and given what we had seen she was definitely giving it a good workout.  Now, we’re not here  to plug the wheelchair, she wasn’t actually that impressed with it but what we do want to write more about is the cost of the thing! 

Why does this and similar types of chairs cost the price of small, well equipped family cars?

Honestly tell us why are we having to pay between £10,000 and £15,000 for what are no more than glorified golf buggies?

All terrain wheelchairs are not revolutionary; they are generally no more than chairs with large wheels and thick treads, so where is the disruptive innovation to change this market and displace such ‘lazy’solutions? 

Continuing the comparison, wheelchairs v cars, lets go back to when cars broke the mould, when something different happened – the late 19th century. 

The early cars produced were innovative for their time but restricted to a very small market. They were an expensive luxury and therefore did not disrupt the mass transportation system, horse-drawn vehicles. This market essentially remained intact until the debut of the lower-priced Ford Model T in 1908. The mass-produced automobile was a disruptive innovation, because it changed the market, whereas the first thirty years of automobiles did not.

I’m not saying we need mass production to solve the problem of all terrain wheelchairs but we do need a disruptive event of some kind and lets not rely on current manufacturers to deliver this.  Disruptive innovations tend to be produced by outsiders, entrepreneurs rather than existing market-leading companies. Why? Essentially the business environment of today does not allow them to pursue disruptive innovations because their development takes scarce resources away from getting the most revenue from existing products.

So what’s the answer if we want some real disruptive innovation?

At ‘Dare To Be Purple’ we believe that the successful formula for a disruptive market is inspirirational designers and lots of aspirational consumers -people who demand more than what they are being offered.  We’re continually looking for the designs that offer more and we could do with the help of aspirational customers to do this. Why not join us on Twitter and Facebook and help give designers an agenda for some disruption support them to help manufacturers be a bit more ‘Purple’, a bit more responsive. If not, we’ll continue to pay family car prices for smart looking golf buggies for some time to come and given that choice I’d rather have a Fiesta!


Pleased to meet you – see you at Naidex?

Umbrella_purpleWe thought it was time to share a little more about Dare To Be Purple given we’ve been posting on a range of subjects since last year; introduce ourselves more formally now that we’ve broken the ice so to speak.

Hopefully you know that we’re here to promote good design in assisted living technology, primarily aimed at the over 50’s but we don’t aim to be prescriptive, some of us may need a little help before we reach our half century. However what we are crystal clear about is building a catalogue of the very best designs and services for those that need help when older.

So when did it start? We got into all of this following an elderly relative’s experience after surgery on her foot. It was very apparent that the products being offered – some adaptive shoes to help her walk again were functional but with a hospital look and an elderly feel she described them as ‘beige’ and something she would never wear – a sentiment shared by the handful of other people in the same hospital treatment room.

It wasn’t at this point that we were motivated to do something it was when, despite our cajoling, encouragement, threats, lies, pleading and abject supplication she steadfastly refused to take them out of the box! She would rather be immobile or risk a fall than leave the house in those shoes. Worrying for us as elderly people who fall and need hospitalisation stay almost as twice as long than those elderly patients who are admitted for any other reason. Falls also destroy confidence, increase isolation and reduce independence, with 9 per cent of older people who fall becoming afraid to leave their homes in case they fall again.

And this non-compliance, the refusal to use what’s prescribed or provided costs money; the annual cost of falls of people over 60 in England is £2 billion a year or more than £5.6 million a day but worst of all is that ten per cent of hip-fracture patients over 80 will die within one month of their fracture; 30 per cent will die within a year and there are 13,800 hip-fracture-related deaths a year in the UK!

We now knew the feisty lady we were dealing with wasn’t going to change her opinion so we started to look for alternatives that might appeal to a lady who had lived a full life in the ‘60’s and who is very much the character in Jenny Joseph’s poem Warning .

We found a world of great designs not only in shoes but also other products, unfortunately though it took a lot of time as they were not in one place and this  was when we had our Eureka moment: curate the very best of these designs and put them together and build a community of people like our dear relative to ensure we didn’t promote anything that was ‘beige’. However, our aim is not to appeal to fashion aficionados, we just want to offer things that would be worn or used by those who need help, avoiding the beige and embracing Purple!

Jenny’s poem was the inspiration for our name but a real person inspired us to help people with assisted living needs and to her we are truly grateful. We soon hope to launch a ‘one stop shop’ (as they say nowadays) on the intranet for all our ‘Purple’ designs and services and to further encourage comment and debate on these, and other related topics, to make sure we have the best and if not the best, hopefully hear from our ‘Purple Community’ where the best is to be found.

In our hunt so far for these designs we have trawled the internet, (a lot!) gone shopping, (a lot!) and attended conferences and exhibitions far and wide; Germany, Ireland, Dubai and later this month we are going to Naidex at the NEC in Birmingham on the 26th, 27th and 28th to source more great products and services.

So now we have been formally introduced and shared a little of our story why not join us on Twitter or FaceBook and share your views on what’s Purple and what’s Beige’ out there. If like us you live in the UK join us at Naidex and see what’s on offer yourself. If you do, look out for the Dare To Be Purple team, scouting out the very best for you and of course one particular lady we know quite well!


A Purple Review of the Alive and Active home exercise DVD!

In February this year we received a request from Simon at to check out their exercise DVD. We’re happy to review any product or service using the willing members of our Purple Community, in fact it’s one of the things we’re keen to do, to help sort out the Purple from the Beige!

First we checked out their website and loved their goal:

‘To ensure that by keeping our elderly population active, they stay independent, confident and happy for as long as possible’.

We also passionately believe that exercise is the best way to live a healthier life for longer, so, after receiving a copy of their video we gave it to our lovely guinea pig Mrs KW who lives near Coventry; here is her report.

“This DVD is the best one I have found which is specially suited for the older person who has done no exercise and needs to start, or has done very little. I started a gentle exercise class once a week which is very similar; but once a week is not enough. This is perfect for me I can use it whenever I wish. The music is catchy and after a few times copying the screen I now instinctively do the movements. The sitting exercises are particularly good as all one needs is a dining chair and enough space to walk around it”. Mrs KW, Bedworth.

So it’s resounding ‘Purple’ for Alive and Active.

If you have a view of comment on this or any other product or service do let us know and if, like Simon, you want a product or service reviewed then email Our reviews are not edited (excepting spelling and grammar and only if absolutely necessary), so you’ll always get a genuine appraisal as to whether what you do is Purple or Beige!

Woman angry and frustrated with bad packaging - Dare To Be Purple Blog

Black Friday can lead to a Purple rage!

Today, Black Friday, the latest American fad to be imported here to the UK, will see thousands of us buying presents for our loved ones which they will struggle to open. I’m not just talking about our elderly and less able friends and relatives; everyone struggles to open the electronic equipment or gadget sealed in the hard plastic container that can only be opened with the help of the sharpest implements in your cutlery drawer or your toolbox!

Commonly found entombing electronic goods, razors and even toys, this packaging is called the clamshell or the oyster and rightly so because you’ll certainly need something to prise it open with – bare hands won’t do the job.

With a hard sealed plastic back and front, the clamshell requires sharp scissors, a knife or tin snips to open. Some websites even recommend using a tin opener!

Once you’ve made your incision, the fun doesn’t end there – it’s all too easy to cut or scratch your fingers on the sharp plastic as you try to retrieve the item from inside. When you buy something it should be yours – you shouldn’t have to get into a knife fight with it!

This packaging is often used to deter shop lifters (why else wrap up razor blades with this impenetrable shell?) and I feel, to a lesser extent, to protect the goods inside but it has created another problem for us all – ‘wrap rage’!

Most of us have experienced it, frustration, anger and sometime injury! The latest figures I could find were from 1997 when over 67,000 people visited A&E due to an accident involving packaging and this was only 35% of the injuries. The other 65% were treated by their GP or through home remedy. Nearly 20 years later I suspect the figures are not moving South!

Whilst it’s an issue for everyone the most affected are the elderly, people with a disability and those who may have particular problems with reduced eyesight and hand strength.

What can we do? Well perhaps it’s time for some Purple protest and a good place to start a discussion with those who could change things is The Packaging Federation . Secondly support initiatives such as Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging where goods are free from wires, plastic and the usual trappings and shipped in a plain brown box with minimal protective filling and finally until things change, consider buying one of these Package Openers and post it with your present.

This Black Friday help everyone to avoid a Purple Rage and a hospital visit at Christmas!