STEM II is our second semester STEM course that focuses on the completion of an assistive technology project to address the need of a disadvantaged client or population. We were able to choose groups of 3-4 and decided among ourselves what roles we believed best fit our skill set and what we offered to the team. I, personally, was the chief information officer in charge of documentation and testing records but there was also a CEO, CTO, and CMO. At the end of D term, there is another STEM fair to present our work to the public and clients.
Because I had already begun an assistive technology project for STEM I, my group decided to focus on completing the first full development of the production cycle that I started at the beginning of the year. I had done proof of concept testing with a real Parkinson’s patient to confirm that the pouch design would work but the utensil was nowhere near done. For this project, we set out to create an ergonomic handle, optimize head dimensions, make it injection moldable/mass-producible, and finally dishwasher/food safe. These additional refinements would mean a fully finished utensil that could possibly be patented at the end of the project.
Hand tremors often lead to food spills while the patients are eating. Because of hand tremors, patients have to rely on their caretakers to feed them. This dependency can cause the patient to feel embarrassed and frustrated.
Design an ergonomic spoon which incorporates a pocket to securley store food and reduce spills in tremor patients.
Design Concept 1 involves a full spoon with a partially covered end to allow for food to be securely held in place. Prototypes would be manufactured using 3D printing but the end result could be manufactured in a food-safe material.
Design Concept 2 involves a small part which attaches to the end of an existing spoon to perform the same function as Design Concept 1 without the construction of the full spoon. Contents are kept secure using the same method of a small ‘pouch,’ but retrofitting the concept onto existing spoons allows for less material and potentially lower costs than design one. Design 2 does introduce the challenge of making a universal system which can work on most existing silverware.
Design Concept 3 involves a retractable pouch. A retractable pouch has the potential for increased ease-of-use as the spoon will be completely uncovered when picking up food but retains the ‘pouch’ to keep the food secure after.
Prototype 1 involves a full spoon with a partially covered lip to allow for food to be securely held in place in spite of tremors. The handle was created by scanning a mold of the imprint of the user’s hand posture. The molding was generalized to account for right-handedness and left-handedness by utilizing symmetry and the absence of thumb grooves. This ergonomic design of the handle allows the user to have more grip on the spoon and therefore a more comfortable experience. The stem of the spoon has a large diameter at its connection with the handle to increase the durability of the spoon. The stem is also tapered at the other end to minimize the bulkiness of the spoon without compromising strength. Prototypes shall be manufactured using 3D printing, but the final product should be manufactured in a food-safe material.
Prototype 2 uses a cylindrical, and hollow handle. Through a small latch on the back of the handle, the user can insert a canister that fits and is concealed inside of the handle and can be filled with different weights at different locations throughout the handle body.