New Winter Quarter 2007
Weight Management System for Wheelchair Users
Problem: Nationally within the Department of Veterans Affairs, there is an initiative to engage patients in the MOVE! weight management program. This program consists of both nutritional awareness and weight monitoring. However, patients who are wheelchair users have a difficult time independently weighing themselves at home. Some have resorted to traveling to a VA clinic to be weighed on an industrial scale.
Aim: The goal of this project is to prototype a weighting system that can be used independently by wheelchair users in their home.
Specifications: The device must accommodate both manual and powered wheelchairs. It must be able to subtract the weight of the wheelchair. The weight reading must be visible to the user. Optionally, the weight trend could be recorded and displayed.
IV Pole for Wheelchair Users
Problem: There is a need for an IV pole specifically designed for use on wheelchairs.
Aim: The goal of this project is to prototype an IV pole that accommodates the needs of wheelchair users on a wide variety of wheelchairs.
Specifications: The IV pole system must be either permanently attachable to a wheelchair or be removable, extend to the proper height, accommodate an IV bag, be telescoping for compact storage while still attached to the wheelchair, not interfere with the "tilt-in-space" feature of some wheelchairs, (maintain a vertical orientation), not interfere with the wheelchair user or someone pushing the wheelchair, be in a location that is easy to access, easy to use by family members and hospital staff, require limited training, super sturdy, and resistant to the effects of weather.
Kitty Litter Box Lifter for Wheelchair Users
Problem: People with disabilities and seniors who have trouble stooping and bending, including some wheelchair users, may have trouble cleaning their cats' litter boxes. Although there are motorized "automatic" litter boxes on the market, most of them quickly get "gummed up" and jammed, and all of them need maintenance that also requires bending down to change litter receptacles and to add clean litter.
Aim: The goal of this project is to prototype a kitty litter box device that raises it to a comfortable height for easy cleaning and litter replenishing.
Specifications: The device must be able to be independently operated by the senior/disabled person (and not the kitty), and must minimize the need to bend/stoop. It must be safe for both the pet and pet owner. Whether or not it is motorized, it should require a minimal amount of grip strength or force to operate. For example, if a crank operated the lift, more rotations with less force would be preferable to fewer rotations with greater force.
Accessible Interactive Model of the National Mall in Washington DC
Problem: A scale model of the National Mall area is being made for the Smithsonian Institute. It will be on permanent exhibit, residing in the Smithsonian Information Center in the "Castle", the Institution's original building built for the US Centennial. The model will be accessible by individuals with disabilities and provide information in audio, on a video display, and on a Braille display. Ways of implementing a design to achieve reliable interactivity in a variety of environmental conditions are sought.
Aim: The goal of this project is to explore alternative interactive solutions to produce a prototype that will be accessible to all Smithsonian visitors.
Specifications: The model must provide interactivity a variety of means, including touch and provide information by video display, speech, and Braille display. It must be rugged to survive constant use, comfortable to the touch, and work outdoors in a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions.
Sensors for Monitoring Body Position
Problem: There is a continuing need to monitor individuals as they move. This information can be used to assess level of activity and warn the wearer if they are moving in a manner that may cause injury due to loss of balance, extreme movements, or repetitive motions.
Aim: The goal of this project is to prototype a means of measuring body position by investigating, characterizing, and testing sensor candidates (including smart fabrics). Of particular interest are sensors that measure wrist position including wrist rotation and the force produced by the palm while resting on a surface. Project tasks include measuring the accuracy and repeatability of the sensors over the entire range of body and wrist positions and palm forces.
Specifications: The sensors should exhibit an electrical property (typically resistance or voltage) that changes with position, rotation, or force. They must be able to measure the position / orientation of the wrist or other body parts and force produced by the palm. Wrist motion would include flexion / extension, ulnar / radial deviation, and rotation. A wrist rotation sensor system must be able to provide accurate wrist rotation information independent of arm position or movement.
Single-sensor WristAlert System
Problem: There is a need for a low-cost commercially available device that would warn an individual that he/she is moving his/her wrist in a manner that puts them at risk for a wrist injury. There is no such device currently on the market.
Aim: The ultimate goal of this project is to design, develop, and test a very inexpensive instrumented glove for the general public through retail stores.
Specifications: The device must incorporate a single fiber optic sensor to monitor both wrist flexion / extension and ulnar / radial deviation. An alarm (vibro-tactile, auditory, and/or visual) will activate upon movement beyond a specified angle in any direction for a short time. For simplicity and low-cost, the glove's electronics should consist of logic devices only - no microcontroller.
Wheelchairs for Use around a Therapy Pool
Problem: Because of its buoyancy, a pool is often employed to provide exercise and aquatic therapy for a variety of conditions including arthritis, acute injuries, neurological disorders and the affects of stroke. The warm water used in aquatic therapy also reduces spasticity and relaxes allowing individuals to move with greater mobility and less pain. Users gain the general benefits of exercise without suffering from the compressive and torque forces associated with the gravity of a dry land exercise setting.
For some individuals, a wheelchair must be employed to transfer the user into and out of the pool. This requires a wheelchair designed to survive a watery environment. While commercial products exist, they have design problems and do not meet the specific needs of therapists who work with these individuals.
Aim: The goal of this project is to design and construct a prototype wheelchair that is durable, resistant to the effects of water, and meets the specific needs of users and therapists.
Specifications: The prototype must be strong, lightweight, and resistant to the effects of water. It must include a means to push it easily with a user sitting in it.
Accessible Fishing Pole
Problem: We have many customers living with Repetitive Stress Syndrome / Injury, Carpel Tunnel, Parkinson's Disease, a limited capability to use both hands, and challenges that effect their ability to participate fully in leisure activities like fishing. We have a lot of requests for accessible fishing poles that provides an alternative to reeling and has a handle that is easier to hold.
Users: Individuals who are living with carpel tunnel, repetitive stress syndrome, arthritis, Parkinson's, those who only have the ability to use one hand.
Aim/Specifications: Develop an accessible fishing pole for individuals with mobility challenges. The general design and function of the fishing pole should be the similar to a standard fishing pole, but the reel and handle should accommodate those who have a difficult time using their hands. The new design should be one unit or a simple, lightweight attachment to an existing pole to make it easier to use.
Go Anywhere Walker
Problem: Most walkers used by customers accommodate their basic needs of getting around. However, every so often, customers ask us for a walker that goes beyond flat paved walks and will take them onto a sandy beach or a up a gravel driveway. Though there are durable walkers available, we have yet to find one that makes it easy to master awkward moves, like walking up stairs. Having such a walker will provide more independence.
Users: Users of this walker would be individuals with mobility disabilities that would like to be more active, the aging population, those with arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, etc
Aim/Specification: Customers would like to see a walker that doesn't limit them anymore than they have to be. Students should think of a universal design for a walker that keeps users feeling comfortable in most standard surroundings, where anyone might walk on a daily basis - across a lawn, down the street, on carpet - and where most walkers might get stuck. The design should be durable but lightweight and adjustable to various heights.
CD-ROM/DVD Changer for a Computer
Problem: Individuals with limited mobility, especially quadriplegics, rely on their computer for entertainment and regular communication. However, simple tasks like turning on a computer or putting in a CD can be challenging, if not impossible without assistance. An apparatus that allows computer users to change a CD/CD-ROM/DVD with the push of a switch or a simple voice command with voice recognition would be ideal for those avid movie watchers or for those who regularly install software on their computer. We're imagining something similar to a automatic CD changer in a car or an old fashioned Juke Box where the CD is loaded in a queue and can be selected upon command!
Users: Quadriplegics, those who have no use of their hands, Parkinson's or other diseases which cause uncontrollable shaking, CP, etc.
Aim: Develop a device, either internal or external, that allows computer users to select a CD/DVD from a group and place it in the CD-ROM drive with the touch of a button or click of an icon on the desktop. The style should be clean and moderate in size to sit next to a computer or on desk.
Amplified Answering Machine
Problem: People who have hearing impairments are a significantly sized market with which we work. We currently carry several lines of telephones with features that allow users to amplify incoming sound, as the standard decibel level is far too low for them to hear any conversation (e.g. The Freedom Amplified Phone). These phone generally accommodate individuals with moderate to severe hearing loss and amplify anywhere from 25 to 50 decibels. Though there is an assortment of phones, none of them have answering machines and there are no stand-alone options that we are aware of. Though we once carried an answering machine with a fairly high amplification option, it has been discontinued and we have not been able to locate an alternative, either included with a phone or stand alone, for our customers.
Users: Those with hearing challenges of any age.
Aim/Specifications: Create an answering machine that has an adjustable volume that ranges from 25 to 50 decibels. Students should take into consideration that many individuals using the machine are baby boomers or aging, might not be tech savvy, or have limited vision as well. The design should be clean, preferably with large buttons, and be simple to navigate. It should work in conjunction with any standard analog phone and line.
Accessible Video Game Control
Problem: Parents often contact us to request accessible gaming devices, especially controls for Xbox and PS2. There has not been anything developed for gamers with cerebral palsy that make it easy to play standard video games.
Aim/Specification: The aim of this project is to create an accessible gaming control or gaming control apparatus that makes it simpler for players with Cerebral Palsy to play. The controller should be larger in scale and have buttons large enough for someone with little motor control to hit. The control should also be capable of mounting on a desktop or wheelchair if needed. Students should take into account the sensitivity of the buttons and include an adjustment that allows for a change in setting, as users may have uncontrolled movement/hit specific buttons accidentally.
Accessible Office Equipment
Alternate Interface for an Office Telephone System
Gesture Recognition Clicking for TrackerPro
Specifications: Nod head to perform a mouse click.
Aid for Donning an Artificial Leg
"I have noticed that many of our amputee patients are dependent with getting their prosthesis on. It would be nice to have a method/device to assist them with pulling their leg on since some are weak in their hands."
Rain Protection Device for a Wheelchair User
Specification: The device must be easy to activate.
Bicycle Navigation Device for Visually Impaired Riders
Device to Facilitate Moving Elderly Individuals around Their Home
Further Work on Last Year's ME113 Projects
Revisit projects listed in NSF guide - Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons with Disabilities (See Alex Tung for the publication)