Technology for Independent Living

obi-feeding-robot-7Obi robot arm gives disabled diners a helping hand

Robotic cooking aids are gaining traction in the modern kitchen, but the team behind Obi has a goal more noble than just cooking up a gourmet storm. This little robot arm is designed to empower people afflicted with physical disabilities, giving them back the dignity of feeding themselves.

The first product out of consumer robotics company Desin, Obi looks like a clean, modern kitchen appliance that could improve the quality of life for people with conditions such as ALS, cerebral palsy, MS, Parkinson’s and brain or spinal injuries. After a caregiver divides the meal into Obi’s four separate bowls, users are able to feed themselves through a simple interface: one button moves the arm between the bowls, and another selects that food, dips the spoon in and brings it up to the diner’s mouth.

Those inputs can be customized, depending on the specific needs and abilities of the user. Big bright “Buddy Buttons” on the table can be useful for those who still have some function in their hands but lack the fine motor skills required to steady a spoon. They could also be placed on the floor to use as foot pedals. Pillows that respond to the slightest squeeze allow for head and cheek activation, while a small mouth piece switch can be triggered through sip or puff actions.

Obi’s available for $4,500, which includes the plate, placemat, a large and small spoon, charging cable and user documentation. The “Buddy Buttons,” pillows and mouth piece can be ordered separately, depending on user needs.

160623112356_1_540x360Novel controller allows gamers to compete with their feet

It’s tough to play video games when you have no fingers to push buttons on the controller. The solution is a sandal like controller that allows a player to control the action with his or her feet. The controller allows people to socialize in a way where their disability is not a factor. Next to our hands, our feet are probably the most dexterous part of our body. The inventors goal is to license their work to a company that can help make the device widely available. Be watching your favorite gaming company in the future!