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STEM II is a rigorous course that is taught by Dr. Crowthers. In this class, we create our own groups to develop an assistive technology project for a client in our community. Starting in August, we began brainstorming and completing initial background research. Projects can be in science, engineering, or mathematics. Throughout the school year, we are guided by Dr. C through stages of literature review, creating hypotheses, organizing our project, and writing numerous technical pieces including a grant proposal and a thesis. Additionally, we are lectured by research professionals in numerous fields about the research process.

My team is called Empathetic Engineering. I work as Chief Manufacturing Officer, Isabella Palit is Chief Executive Officer, Rianna Santra is Chief Information Officer, and Donovan Sappet is Chief Technology Officer. People who use wheelchairs need a way to record themselves independently. A wheelchair camera mount with bluetooth controlled app was designed. This device has the capability to be controlled via an app to move in three directions: roll, pitch, and yaw. Additionally, two customizable attachments were designed to house the device. One is a lap tray and the other is a leg holder with a linear slide.

Problem Statement

There are many people who use wheelchairs who are unable to independently record themselves for vlogging, sportscasting, online calls, etc. There is a need for those with low mobility to be able to control their camera with minimal movement on their part. Many people who use wheelchairs are unable to set up and adjust camera equipment from their wheelchair or need assistance when recording themselves. Inexpensive options are not widely available on the market.

Design Approach

Our team worked to design something that would be easily replicable and customizable. We initially began designing numerous different attachment systems. Clamps that attach to the wheelchair were discussed, however they would not allow for use across a variety of wheelchairs. A separate robot was an option, however due to budget and time constraints, we determined that this design may not be the best use of our time. Passively controlling the robot via the wheelchair’s power or mechanical momentum was one of our other designs, but this design added bulk to the wheelchair and would take away from stabilization. The final design we came to was a lap desk tray (or leg attachment as a secondary option) which would house a three axis gimbal that we designed and controlled via an online application we developed.


Our final prototype consisted of a lap tray (or leg attachment as a secondary option) which housed an attached bar. On the bar, a three directional mount that can be angled allowed for a bar which connected to the three axis gimbal mount to be held up. The gimbal is controlled by a mobile application which my team developed. It can be downloaded on android and ios devices. In the app, each axis of rotation can be adjusted with the touch of a button due to the bluetooth connection to the motors. The entire prototype cost less than $100 and can be easily replicated. We created instructions to replicate the device which you can find along with additional detailed CAD drawings and more information on our website, empatheticengineering.us