What it does
The main goal is to bring independence back to the different types of mobility aids users, by giving them the possibility to do their everyday activities without having to depend on someone else's help. Mission: To be an extra hand for the user.
Throughout my academic education, I had the opportunity to know and interact with people that had to use wheelchairs and walkers. Someone always needed to help them carry their things while they moved from one place to another. Sometimes I could see the frustration in their faces trying to be independent, but at the end many times they had to ask for help.
How it works
Let’s think about how an arm function. Let’s divide it in three sectors: the first and third sectors are the hands and the second sector is the elbow. The hands function is to grab on any irregular or regular surface, as tight or loose as you need it. The elbow lets the arm move around freely, so you can adequate the whole arm without being obstructed by it. Each joint has a screw, so you can easily fix the movement in case of need. To have a freer movement it was decided to use a ball joint mechanism for the elbow, the wrists, and the fingers.
To develop the project, the Iterative Design Process and the Design Thinking Method were used. Firstly, I interviewed several wheelchair and walker users to identify and then analyse the user’s needs and desires. With the user’s guidance, I used the User Experience method, so we could put ourselves in the user’s shoes to have a better understanding of the problem. With the support of the user’s point of view, the design principles were defined and throughout the design process we made sure to cover the key aspect of the solution, modifying the ones that didn’t. After collecting all the user’s experience data I brainstormed and selected some ideas, analysed them, re-designed them, did some mechanism research to validate the functionality. Before doing a prototype, I asked for my professor’s opinions about the viability of the manufacturing and engineering aspects. After their feedback, I re-designed the idea and moved to prototyping. From the first prototype, some aspects had to be modified. By using SolidWorks software, it was easier to simulate the real physical movement limitations, analyse them and re-design the product to obtain the final product.
How it is different
What makes HandleBot different and unique is that it is designed to focus on integrating its functions in the daily basis of peoples lives, mainly people that have to use walkers and all types of wheelchairs, so they can live their lives as normal, practical, and as independently as possible.
Right now, I am working with an intellectual property firm to obtain a use patent with the collaboration of Universidad Panamericana to polish some details, if necessary. With that patent, we can continue with the research and development process by using the startup service that the University offers and continue in the development of the product. In addition, the product goal is to be economically accessible for all socio-economical levels and in the future, redesign specifically for different types of user's needs and expectations.