08/10/2016 at 04:58 •
6 million people in India suffer from different locomotive disorders and there are no available technology to assist them. This hampers their day to day activities and one of most important would be having a meal independently.
The feeder has a story to tell : Motivation to take up this challenge.
Various attempts have been made to provide a feeder device which will assist or
help the physically disabled individuals to have their meal independently and
these devices are bulky and hence needs to be affixed at a single position and
cannot be carried from point to point where the patient/ physically disabled or the
end user is located.
US3907126 discloses a feeder apparatus for physically handicapped persons.
US5282711 discloses an assistive dining device, system and method for automatic
self operated self feeding.
The project started back in November 2013. After several iterations the working prototype was built and tested after 14 months. I was looking at designing a device with following features:
SOCIAL STIGMA : There is a social barrier (speaking with context to India) associated with devices like these. No one wants a robotic arm feeding feeding them. The feeder was therefore designed like a lunch-box.
FLEXIBLE : Because of different heights and body sizes, the device had to provide an automatic assistive feeder with height adjustment mechanism as well as horizontal height adjustment mechanism.
ADAPTABLE : While designing for specially able, one thing which has to be born in mind is that there are numerous user persona. It should be made sure (if commercialized) that one device fits the majority of user. The haptic-feedback would be custom, depending the level and type of disability. It could be pressure sensor for some or just a big mechanical button for others.
Spoonful - User interaction
The working mechanism along with different parts is explained.
The height adjustment is performed in a vertical direction and distance adjustment is
performed in horizontal direction with the help of a cross scissor lift and sliding
Said feeder is powered with a battery and is attached with a motorized spoon which replicates the scooping action of the spoon. The feeder device is divided into three levels viz. level 1, level 2 and level 3.
LEVEL 1 consists of base and gives the support to the device and further consists of
a switch mode power supply, battery level indicator and handle to hold the device
while moving it from one place to another.
Level 2 consists of height adjustment mechanism in vertical direction using cross
scissor mechanism and horizontal movement with the help of linear bearing/
sliding mechanism or rails etc.
Level 3 is the topmost part of the device and is pointed U shaped so as to
accommodate the solid and semisolid food material to be fed and the pointed U
shape of the bowl help the food falling from the spoon directly to the bottom of
the bowl. This level also consists of main central processing unit of the automatic
assistive feeder device.
This post is for anyone who would want to contribute to the project.