In a collaboration between Design Factory Melbourne (DFM), Kyoto Institute of Technology and Japan-based engineering company Yanmar, a team of students were challenged to come up with a new water-based experience for leisure.

Japanese engineering company Yanmar’s core business sits in the development of diesel engines, agricultural machinery, power generation, construction equipment and marine vessels. They’ve been looking into the complexities of their markets to identify new product opportunities.

The company challenged the student team to create an entirely new and exciting water-based experience. Existing water sports, such as surfing and wakeboarding, can be difficult to master and require practice. So, the team was tasked with developing a new water-based experience – one that would be accessible to people of all levels of experience.

Learn more about the project

The project


DFM students worked with Kyoto Institute of Technology and Japanese engineering company Yanmar.


The Wheebo’s simplicity and stability enables users to jump on board and have fun straight away.


The team used iterative prototyping to develop a fun, technologically enhanced product. 

The solution

The team created a solution called Wheebo, an omni-directional, jet-powered platform that allows the user to turn with a simple shift of weight or change of tilt. The simplicity of the interaction and stability of the machine delivers a fun activity, accessible to people of all levels of water experience.

Through iterative prototyping, the team delivered a final prototype encompassing:

  • a round platform with central rotating jet underneath, allowing users to ride standing, sitting or lying down 
  • a Bluetooth-connected wristband to control the Wheebo’s speed 
  • a Bluetooth-connected mobile app that customises the Wheebo by adjusting the direction change sensors’ stability and sensitivity.
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Wheeebo PressMovie

Hello, Wheebo

Following the project, Yanmar continued to develop the concept and released the product to market. 

Contributing students

  • Anisha Bijur (User Experience Design, SUT)
  • Brendan Parsons (Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Design, SUT)
  • Yang Chun Cheng (Graphic Design, SUT)
  • Gergely Barna (Architecture, KIT)
  • Namina Sakai (Product Design, KIT)
  • Ryohei Nomura (Architecture, KIT)
  • Yumeno Arima (Graphic Design, KIT)

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