The Purdue Institute for Accessible Science recently announced the development of the “RoboDesk.” This motorized arm will allow people with disabilities a way to access their mobile devices much more easily and conveniently.
Purdue University associate professor of engineering Brad Duerstock is developing the technology at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Industrial Engineering.
“The key innovation, really, is its design,” said Duerstock. “It is very versatile and works very well for wheelchair users.”
The RoboDesk uses a motorized mount that attaches to a wheelchair and uses an arm to extend or withdraw a mobile device like a tablet. The tablet is attached to a tray that enables it to be use as a writing surface and meal container as well.
The key feature of the RoboDesk is the motorized arm. It does not impede the functions of the wheelchair or wheelchair user. A person does not have to move the mount out of the way to approach a table or get out of the chair.
“It moves with the movement of the chair,” said Duerstock. “A lot of chairs nowadays tilt, recline, and elevate.” Because of its versatility, the RoboDesk can also be attached to other things, like a recliner or hospital bed.
The purpouse of the RoboDesk is to get people with mobility loss into the lab,” said Karl Booksh, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Delaware. “It gives them more tools at their disposal so they can do what they want to do more efficiently.
Duerstock hopes to have the RoboDesk licensed and manufactured within the next three years. His plan is to make it compatible with various types of manual and electric or battery-operated wheelchairs.