Tim was in a car accident that left him unable to use his arms. He needs to be fed by caregivers who must be present throughout the feeding process. He would like to have the independence and freedom to feed himself.
Our goal was to design and build a robotic system that allows Tim to feed himself. The system consists of a robotic feeding arm, food bowls and a water bottle, eye-tracking, and a custom GUI. The simple GUI lets the user select one of the bowls to eat from by looking at the appropriate section of the GUI. Based on this command, the robotic arms moves to the appropriate bowl, scoops food, and delivers it to the user’s mouth. The user can chose to return food on the spoon if not all of it is desired. The software system remembers which bowl was selected last and how many times each bowl was selected, allowing the system to estimate the amount of food remaining in each bowl.
If the user would like a drink, they can select that option from the GUI. The robotic arm swivels to offer a drink straw to the user. The straw has a valve attached at the end that prevents water from spilling until the valve is squeezed open with the user’s mouth. The GUI is simple an intuitive to use. The design focuses on bright colors with large selection regions. We implemented a simple, multi-level menu system.
The project is complete and was successfully tested by end users at Lifestream, including Tim. The project was also received widespread media attention, including a CNN feature, and articles by Engadget, Forbes, PCWorld, and Herald News. The project also won first prize in NU’s ECE Capstone Design Competition.