Winter Quarter 2017

          
Perspectives in Assistive Technology
ENGR110/210

          

David L. Jaffe, MS
Tuesdays & Thursdays from 4:30pm to 5:50pm
Thornton Center Classroom 110

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Candidate Team Projects - 2017

Team Projects are for suitable for teams of students (typically 3) taking the course for three credit units.

These projects will be "pitched" in class on Thursday, January 12th

Small red dot  - new or updated project description for 2017
Small black square  - project to be "pitched" by the project suggestor
Small blue diamond  - project to be "pitched" by Dave
?   - project "pitch" status to be determined

Project contacts are listed on the handout distributed on the first day of class.

"Recommended Skillset" is dependent on the selected design concept.


Team Projects suggested this year:

Small red dot Small black square Pickup Sticks Project
Small red dot Small black square Add-a-Sock Project
Small red dot Small black square Grip Sense Project
Small red dot Small black square Hybrid Body-Powered Harness Project
Small red dot Small black square Get a Grip Project
Small red dot Small black square Dance Therapy Project
Small red dot Small black square Paddle Project
Small red dot Small black square Orthotic Rebound Shock
Small red dot Small black square Hand Grasp Project
Small red dot Small black square Plugs for Molly
Small red dot Small black square New Project Title

Team Projects suggested last year:

Small red dot Small black square Authoring Grade School Lessons on Disability and/or Assistive Technology

Team Projects suggested in past years:

Small black square Art Tools Project
Small red dot Small blue diamond Wheelchair Backup Monitor and Alert
Small blue diamond Creative Expression
Small blue diamond Designing Your Afterlife
? Project employing the Leap Motion Controller
Small blue diamond Enhanced bed control for veterans with spinal cord injury
Small blue diamond Enhanced access to touch screens
Small black square Magical Bridge Playground Project
Small red dot Small black square Customize Abby's Scooter Project
Small blue diamond Student-defined Team Projects

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Small red dot  Pickup Sticks Project

Background: A walking stick is an assistive mobility device used by many people with moderately reduced balance or strength to facilitate walking. It can improve balance, reduce pain, increase mobility and confidence, help redistribute weight from a lower leg that is weak or painful, improve stability by increasing the base of support, and provide tactile information about the ground to improve balance. In the US, 10 percent of adults older than 65 years use canes and 4.6 percent use walkers.

In contrast to crutches, walking sticks are generally lighter, but, because they transfer the load through the user's unsupported wrist, they are unable to offload significant loads from the legs.

Problem: For individuals who use walking sticks for balance, it is difficult for them to pick up items that have fallen to the floor.

Aim: Explore designs that will add a mechanism to walking sticks that would facilitate picking up small objects on the floor.

Design Criteria:

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering, Shop

Links:

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Small red dot  Add-a-Sock Project

Background:

Problem: Maintaining the fit of a prosthesis throughout the day can be challenging for lower extremity amputees who have fluctuating edema of their limb. Walking will often change the volume of the limb necessitating the addition of a sock. Some amputees have significant difficulty knowing when to add a sock due to their decreased sensation in their limb, which can lead to problems with both fit and function.

Aim: Explore designs for a simple pressure sensor system, to fit unobtrusively inside a prosthetic device, to alert the user when it is time to add (or remove) a sock.

Design Criteria:

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechatronics, Mechanical Engineering, Shop

Links:

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Small red dot  Grip Sense Project

Background:

Problem: Users of upper limb electro-mechanical hand prostheses do not have an easy way of determining the grip strength that their device is producing. Too little grip may result in the grasped object slipping out of their hand, while too much strength may damage or crush the object.

Aim: Explore designs for a simple sensor system that will inform the user of the grip strength being produced by his/her prosthetic device. The sensing modality must be something other than vibration.

Design Criteria:

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering, Shop

Links:

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Small red dot  Hybrid Body-Powered Harness Project

Background:

Problem: A body-powered prosthetic device employs a cable system that runs from the prosthetic hand across the back to the opposite shoulder. The prosthetic hand is powered by either flexion of the shoulder or by flexion abduction of the scapulae. An upper body amputee who wears a body-powered prosthesis must make abnormal movements operate the prosthetic hand. These movements may bring unwanted attention to the wearer and may also compromise the action and range of action of the prosthesis. Additionally, persons with severe scar tissue or the inability to generate sufficient force may not be able to operate a body-powered prosthesis. In addition, body-powered systems are generally less cosmetically pleasing than passive or myoelectric models.

Aim: Explore alternative ways of controlling the prosthetic device, perhaps using electronic sensors and electromechanical systems.

Design Criteria:

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering, Shop

Links:
Body-Powered Prostheses

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Small red dot  Get a Grip Project

Background: A handbike is a hand pedaled bicycle designed for people without the ability to pedal with their legs. The Freedom Ryder is the first high performance hand-powered bicycle. Users of this recreation and racing product have set distance, speed, and time records. The model FRH-1Q350X optionally features a forearm actuated brake or the James Watson Quadgrips, a "forearm actuated brake lever" that operate without the need to grip or squeeze a control.

Problem: Although some veterans with spinal cord injuries may be able move their arms, they may not have the ability to form a strong grip, preventing them from efficiently "pedaling" their handbikes.

Aim: Explore designs that would enhance a handbike user's with quadriplegia ability to pedal the Freedom Ryder.

Design Criteria:

  • the design could be a replacement hand grip assembly or an accessory that fits over the current handgrip
  • no structural modifications to the handbike
  • no drilling into the frame
  • optionally fits multiple handbike models

Other:

Recommended Skills: Mechanical Engineering, Shop

Links:
Freedom Ryder - FRH-1
Bike-on Quad Grip
Bike-on C5 Grip
Top End Wheelchairs

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Small red dot  Dance Therapy Project

Background: There is considerable medical support documenting the positive health benefits of dance and movement therapy for people experiencing stress-related physical and psychological symptoms, pain, depression, cardiovascular disease, dementia, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions - promoting emotional, social, cognitive, and physical well-being, as well as an enhanced quality of life. Movement / Dance classes are offered at many Senior Centers.

Problem: Wheelchair users are unable to dance in the traditional sense and some older adults who don't use wheelchairs may experience balance issues that may affect their ability to stand, walk, or move safely. However, with encouragement, they can all engage in dance therapy while seated through movement of the body parts they can control: head, neck, arms, hands, torso, and feet.

Aim: Explore designs to provide encouragement and enhance the dance therapy experience for both wheelchair users and individuals who can not stand for long periods.

Design Criteria:

  • the design should not permanently alter the user's chair or wheelchair
  • the design should be portable
  • the design may be battery-powered
  • the design may provide encouragement and attention in multiple ways

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechatronics, Mechanical Engineering, Shop

Links:

Organizations:

Medical Conditions:

Cancer

Dementia

Cardiavascular Disease

Arthritis

Older Adults

Chair and Wheelchair Dancing:


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Small red dot  Paddle Project

Background: "GoodLife Mobility, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit company, has been working in the field of marine electric propulsion for individuals with physical challenges since 2009. We have had a long term relationship with Jesse Billauer, a surfer who became a quadriplegic in a surfing accident at age seventeen and has courageously returned to surfing by getting pushed into waves by his friends. One of the goals of the organization has been to get Jessie back in the waves with the same kind of independence he enjoyed as an able-bodied surfer. Based on years of R&D and a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation, GoodLife Mobility (GLM) now has working prototypes of a joystick-controlled surfboard powered by an add on propulsion system that attaches to any surfboard or Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board. This system compensates for Jesse's extremely limited paddle strength."

Problem: For people with an upper body weakness due to age or impairment, recreational water mobility and safety is often limited by their physical strength in paddling. At the same time, paddling is important as it is both a source of physical exercise and provides a sense of control.

Aim: Explore designs that would provide this population with an awesome on-the-water experience.

Design Criteria:

  • Intuitive to use
  • Avoids run-away condition
  • Waterproof
  • Programmable to the user's abilities

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechatronics, Mechanical Engineering

Links:
GoodLife Mobility
Jesse at Marina del Rey, August 9, 2016 (Download video 1:24)
Fernanda at Sequoia Yacht, July 14, 2016 (Dowload video 1:13)
GoodLife Trikes
GoodLife Mobility Videos 7 videso
Motionize SUP paddle sensor

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Small red dot  Orthotic Rebound Shock

Background: "In 1989, at the age of 8, I was struck by a semi-truck, resulting in massive trauma to my right leg. Because the injury happened at such a young age, in addition to losing a significant portion of the lateral side of my right leg, I experienced growth deformities over time. I am not an amputee as I still have my full limb; however it has significantly less girth, has abnormal contours from muscle trauma, sits at an abnormal angle, and has an abnormal rotation. Millions of people like me live with disfigured limbs resulting from congenital diseases, growth deformities, and trauma. Even when wearing a leg brace, these factors are noticeable." - Max

Problem: "I recently visited a Paralympic snowboarding camp and found that I am at a severe disadvantage compared to the other competitors as most of them have impaired ankles but fully functioning knees, while I have both an impaired ankle and a severely impaired knee. I have a desire for a mechanism that puts me on a more level playing field with the other athletes. The main issue is that as I squat deeper, I have a more difficult time maintaining balance, absorbing shocks, and carrying a large percentage of my body weight on my affected right leg."

Aim: "Explore designs for a mechanism, attached to my existing knee brace, which would improve its stability and provide a significant elastic rebound during deep knee flexion. The device would also serve as a shock absorber by dampening knee flexion and storing the energy for rebounding the knee into extension."

Design Criteria:

  • The angle of knee flexion at which the device is engaged must be adjustable (e.g. engages at 45, 75, or 90 degrees)
  • The device can't be too bulky or heavy such that performance gains are nullified
  • The device must be easily engaged and disengaged
  • The device must be removable and transferable to other braces
  • The device must be very responsive in it's application of assistance to assist an already functional limb

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering

Links:
The Good Leg Project
Photo of existing knee brace

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Small red dot  Hand Grasp Project

Problem: While some stroke survivors may have good arm function, some find it difficult to grasp, hold, and release objects with their affected hand.

Aim: Explore designs to add a grasping, holding, and releasing capability for stroke survivors.

Design Criteria:

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering

Links:
SaeboGlove

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Small red dot  Plugs for Molly

Background: Molly has a spinal cord injury as a result of an automobile rollover. After being told that there was no hope for any voluntary movement below the top of her shoulders, Molly proceeded to rehabilitate herself and continues to recover, decades after her injury. Her injury has left her with limited grip and hand/arm function.

Problem: "Were I to add up the number of minutes I have wasted fussing with cords and plugging them in, I am certain it would add up to be a month of days over the past 20 years. And then there is that calmed frustration."

Aim: Explore designs for cords (power, USB, and charging) that would facilitate their handling, plugging-in, and unplugging for individuals with impaired grip and hand/arm function like Molly.

Design Criteria:

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering

Links:
A power plugs with a finger loop to make it easier to pull out the plug - image
Universal Plug
Moment by Moment: The Healing Journey of Molly

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Small red dot  New Project title

Background:

Problem:

Aim:

Design Criteria:

Other:

Recommended Skillset:

Links:


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Small red dot  Authoring Grade School Lessons on Disability and/or Assistive Technology

Background: Nearpod is a mobile learning platform that helps teachers deliver classroom instruction using iPads and other mobile devices. It combines interactive presentation, collaboration, and real-time assessment tools into one integrated solution.

Problem: Although thousands of Nearpod lessons have been authored, teachers currently don't have access to engaging and interactive lessons about Disability and/or Assistive Technology.

Aim: Author Nearpod lesson modules on Disability and/or Assistive Technology suitable for use in a grade school classroom.

Design Criteria:

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Education

Links:
Graphite - Nearpod Editorial Review
Nearpod video (1:13)
Making Tech Simple - Nearpod Introduction
Edshelf - Nearpod Review (with video 0:40)


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Small red dot  Art Tools Project

Background: Abilities United in Palo Alto ensures that thousands of people with developmental and physical disabilities fully participate in community life. They support children and adults, their families and the community, and champions a culture in which all members of society are included and appreciated for their distinctive contributions.

Several participants who Abilities United serve have significant range of motion and muscle / motor control challenges but greatly enjoy art. The artists, all of whom also have a developmental disability, have a unique way of expressing their artistic interpretation of their subjects. Their joy of art and life is expressed in works created with acrylic paint, watercolor, paper, and other mediums.

Problem: Currently the Abilities United staff needs to provide several of its artists with personal full-time assistance during art activities. Even with this level of attention, they can only help the artists in a very limited way.

Aim: Explore designs that would allow artists with developmental disabilities or range of motion and muscle / motor control challenges to be more independent and increase their ability to participate in art.

Design Criteria: The design should:

  • be simple tools or adaptations
  • avoid creating a mess
  • be easy to set up and put away
  • minimize the need for staff assistance
  • permit artists to pursue their craft independently

Other: Artwork is available for purchase.

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering

Links:
Abilities United
Palo Alto's Abilities United teaches independent living skills
Making art, building lives
Teacher Tips to Adapt Art Projects for Special Ed
Art Supplies for the Special Education Classroom
Working with Special Needs Students in Art
KinderArt
Activities for Disabled Adults

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Small red dot  Wheelchair Backup Monitor and Alert

Background: A few veterans with spinal cord injury at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System use power wheelchairs with head array controllers. (Head array controllers allow an individual without hand or arm function to drive their wheelchairs using their head position.)

Problem: Individuals who use a head array controlled wheelchair often do not have a sufficient range of neck motion to check for obstacles behind their wheelchair while backing up. The array controller itself may obstruct their view to the rear or cause the wheelchair to move in an unintended manner when looking for obstacles to the rear. Other wheelchair users are not always aware of what's behind them. All these situations create a potential safety hazard as the user could unintentionally collide with objects or people.

Aim: Explore mechanical or electronic designs to provide rearward visibility and warning while backing up.

Design Criteria: The solution should not involve drilling into the wheelchair frame or modifying its controller.

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Mechatronics, Mechanical Engineering

Links:
Permobil C300 wheelchair
Inspection camera
Rear view cameras
Mini Rear View Camera
TeraRanger One - Distance Sensor
Rear View Mirror
Raspberry Pi Camera Module
Wide Screen Mirror Monitor & Backuo Camera with Night Vision
Video Backup Camera Kit
Wireless Backup Camera Kit
Wi-Fi Camera - view through Android & iOS

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Creative Expression

Background: Most everyone has a need and desire to be creative through activities such as writing, painting, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, quilting, photography, singing, dancing, and music.

Problem: Existing tools supporting creativity are often lacking for people with disabilities. Movement difficulties may prevent an individual from fully participating in their chosen activity.

Aim: Explore ways to enhance creative expression for people with disabilities. This could include the creation of new activities or fabrication of new tools.

Suggestions:

  • Convert the user's existing assistive technology device into a creative "paintbrush" or "musical instrument"
  • Use non-traditional inputs such as residual movements or brain waves
  • Adapt or create instruments for musicians with disabilities
    One-Handed Musical Instrument (OHMI) Competition

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Various, depends on chosen solution

Links:
Chris Chafe - Director of CCRMA

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Designing Your Afterlife

Background: Death is the most severe form of disability as one is no longer able to interact with people or physical objects in the living world. What remains are only frozen static artifacts - images, writings, and the recollections of others. Gone are one's personality, beliefs, expertise, humor, vision, memories, insights, and intellect.

Problem: With one's death, it is impossible to provide a full and accurate representation of whom they were, what they believed in, and how they acted. The recollections of family and friends fade and disappear with time, leaving the departed one's legacy at the mercy of the living.

Aim: Explore ways to preserve one's essence after death. In the technology extreme, this might manifest itself as an interactive system that responds to queries, retells stories, relates experiences, shares expertise, and expresses humor. The pre-dead user would be able to create and program his / her eternal computer-based persona before her / his demise.

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Various, depends on chosen solution

Links:
Adobe Mobile Apps:
Voice - produces story-telling videos from pictures and audio
Slate - produces rich and interactive content in a album-like format
Clip - produces video and audio sequences on the fly
Adobe Desktop / Laptop Applications:
Digital Publishing Solution: Course Apps - a high-level solution for courses
Captivate - creates high-level e–learning content
Presenter - produces compelling and interactive presentation, starting from Microsoft PowerPoint
3-D Hologram Technology Will Make it Possible to Virtually Connect With People After They’re Gone

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Project employing the Leap Motion Controller

Background: The Leap Motion Controller senses and tracks the movement of hands and fingers in 3D: pointing, waving, reaching, and grabbing. Advertised applications for this USB device include control of a computer to: browse the web, read articles, flip through photos, play music, draw, paint, design, play video games, and create music.

Aim: Explore an application for a person with a disability using the Leap Motion Controller product. Examples include enhanced computer control and accessibility for those with limited manipulation abilities, physical therapy coach, control of household appliances (lights, TV, music system), operation of Bluetooth devices (iPhone), and implementation of an on-screen keyboard.

Design Criteria: The device should be appropriate for the user's abilities and be simple to configure and use.

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Computer Science

Links:
Leap Motion
Leap Motion Controller
V2 Tracking Software
Leap Motion forums
Gesture-Based Design Engineering (with video 3:27)
Applications:
Four Deaf Students Launch a Revolutionary Way To Communicate - MotionSavvy
Helping People with Disability and Parkinsons Disease (video 5:00 in Spanish)
Tiny Device, Huge Potential: How Leap Motion Will Change Computing
Using the Leap Motion to enhance software accessibility

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Enhanced bed control for veterans with spinal cord injury

Background: Veterans with spinal cord injury at the Palo Alto VA Health Care System use electric beds equipped with a pendant that controls their operation: head up/down, bed up/down, and foot up/down.

Problem: The buttons on the controller are difficult to activate as they are concave and require considerable pressure.

Aim: Explore solutions that would enable veterans to more easily operate their beds, including voice activation.

Design Criteria: Solutions could consist of a replacement bed control pendant or an overlay to the existing pendant.

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Various, depends on chosen solution

Links:
Bed manufacturer

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Enhanced access to touch screens

Background: Touch screen devices - tablets, phones, kiosks, and computers - are becoming increasingly popular in everyday life, from personally-owned devices to those found in stores and polling places.

Problem: Many people with limited hand control have trouble getting their touch screen device to accept their 'tap' or interpret their gestures correctly. Sometimes the problem is caused by dry hands or fingers, but more often it's related to a user's mild fine motor problems. In one situation, this issue causes them to unintentionally slide their finger across the screen when they desire to tap, resulting in the touch screen device misreading this action as a swipe. Or they may inadvertently hold their finger on the selection too long, leading to misinterpretation as a precursor to selecting or copying a block of text.

Aim: Explore ideas that would enable users to make their selections more accurately on their personal touch screen devices.

Design Criteria: The solution should be an external adapter that can be used with an unmodified touch screen device. Light weight, low cost, and compact size are key features.

Other:

Recommended Skillset: Various, depends on chosen solution

Links:

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Small red dot  Magical Bridge Playground Project

Background: Magical Bridge has built the nation's first fully accessible and socially inclusive playground designed specifically for children with disabilities as well as children of parents who have a disability.

The City of Palo Alto designated 1.3 acres of underutilized public land in Mitchell Park, located at 600 East Meadow Drive in Palo Alto, for the site of the Magical Bridge Playground. The playground is adjacent to Abilities United and close to the new Mitchell Park Library.

The playground opened in April 2015 and has been very popular with both kids and parents, with some families traveling long distances to experience it.

The Magical Bridge Foundation has recently been created to assist other communities in building their own Playgrounds.

Problem: The park's play equipment has been well-received, but some aspects of the play areas could be modified for better access. In addition, replacement play areas are sought to update the park with fresh attractions every few years. And as additional Playgrounds are constructed, there will be more opportunities to design new features and refine existing designs.

Aim: Explore designs to offer a new and innovative play and educational experiences incorporating multiple senses, actions, and outcomes.

Consider designs for an object that generates sounds (or sound effects) when it is touched, pushed, shaken, turned, stepped on, etc. Also consider "sound-ifying" existing playground equipment.

Design Criteria: Designs should be fun, safe for everyone, accommodate children and parents with disabilities, durable, low-voltage or solar-powered, and magical.

Other Information: Students will build and test a scaled prototype of their design.

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics, depends on selected design concept

Links:

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Small red dot  Customize Abby's Scooter Project

Background: Abby is an artist, a retired art teacher (grades K-College), a psychiatric social worker, and a computer graphic designer. She is an individual with multiple disabilities: a mobility challenge, a bipolar disorder, and a visual impairment. She is passionate about making a difference and advocating for individual rights. She Chairs the Consumer Advisory Council and represents consumers on the Board of Directors of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in Santa Clara County and has volunteered in their Connection Recovery Support Group and the Peer PAL Program. She has also volunteered for the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, has been on the Board of Directors of the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center (SVILC), has successfully been involved in litigation to preserve the rights of service dog recipients when they are hospitalized, and has presented Poster Sessions and spoken at conferences including NAMI's National Convention, California ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) 2015 Conference celebrating 25 years and the California Council of the Blind's Annual Convention. Abby has a service dog, Inglis, from Canine Partners for Life in Cochranville, PA.

Problem: Individuals, such as Abby, who use wheelchairs, scooters, or walkers have little opportunity to extend their personal sense of fashion and aesthetics to these devices. This is exacerbated by the fact that the equipment covered by health insurance or Medicare is often the most "basic" version with a plain design. Whereas one's choice of clothes, shoes, accessories, and jewelry are made on a daily basis, users of these devices have to "wear" the same equipment everyday and for every occasion.

Abby's scooter has no lighting which creates a safety hazard while traveling at night.

Aim: Explore ways to add a personal aesthetic to and enhance the night time visibility of Abby's scooter.

Design Criteria:

  • The design should not alter or permanently deface or damage the physical structure of the scooter.
  • The customization should be able to easily be installed, removed, changed, cleaned, and washed by the user.
  • The design should work on a number of popular / standard scooters covered by insurance and Medicare.
  • Consider different user personas and aesthetics (e.g. refined / elegant, modern / contemporary, smart / sporty, premium / luxury, male / female, as well as the age of user, etc).
  • Consider fabrics, metal finishes, colors, patterns, lights, textures, and text elements.
  • Consider a variety of usage occasions (e.g. in-home, outdoors, party, tailgater, etc).
  • The design should be inexpensive and easy to fabricate.
  • Consider designs that would enhance scooter visibility at night and when crossing streets.

Recommended Skillset: Mechanical Engineering

Links:
Design Flair for the Least-Stylish Devices
Icon Wheelchairs
Amazing Halloween Costumes around a Wheelchair
This Lexus Is Decked Out With Over 40,000 Programmable LEDs
'Magical Wheelchair' Offers Unforgettable Halloween for Disabled Kids

TravelScoot Folding Mobility Scooter
Abby's scooter on Elizabeth's TravelScoot
The Inglis Foundation
Canine Partners for Life (CPL)

Abby, her scooter, and Service Dog, Inglis

Photo of Abby on her scooter



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Student-defined Team Projects

Meet with course instructor to discuss and agree upon the specifics of the project. Interview, observe, and discuss assistive technology problems with an individual with a disability or older adult. Address their desire to participate in one of the following activities by designing an adaptation to an existing device / tool or creating a new, more useful one. Projects could address:
  • Activities of Daily Living - cooking, showering or bathing, dressing, cleaning, housework, yard work, employment, education, shopping, commuting, etc

  • Sports and Exercise - walking, running, indoor and outdoor sports, etc

  • Leisure Activities and Hobbies - collecting, model making, crafts, board games & videogames, etc


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Other project ideas

Project Coach:
David L. Jaffe, MS

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Updated 01/25/2017

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