Help wanted. Problems that need solving!


The coursework for one of the modules I'm taking this year at university requires for us to design and manufacture something to help someone. That is the brief. It can be software or hardware based (we're studying electronic engineering).

To help us pick a suitable project that can be completed within 11 weeks, myself and two others are brainstorming all of the problems we can think of so that we can have a large range of problems to choose from and design a solution.

If you can think of something that is hard for a cetain group of people that could be made easier with an engineered solution or if you can think of a problem that needs solving, I would love for you to post it below.

Some quick examples, many of these have been solved by otheres, they are just examples:
- steps are a problem for wheel chair users, a deployable ramp for converting steps into a ramp safely
- jars are hard to open for those with weak wrists or arthiritus, an apparatus to aid in their opening
- educating people on what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint is hard. A website to give users a weekly suggestion of things in their  life they might be able to change to be more environmentally friendly. They would be able to tick them as adopted or rejected and see a list of the things that they've changed for the better.

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I think a bus stop that has a surface that can erase any graffiti on it. like you could spray paint all you want and then spray something on it and erase it.
the sun that shines into ur house and onto your tv when you watching tv (or on some kind of thing with a screen) and it glares and you cant see the screen no more
Koosie7 years ago
I've always had an issue with the wheelchair design.  Thankfully I'm not bound to one, but my Grandmother is and I hate the way the frigging thing is so low down.

We are a big family but in general, why can't a wheelchair be designed to stand higher.  I reckon a five-wheel, semi-standing (and slightly leaning back) system could work well.

Two smaller wheels at bottom front and one at the back.  The thin wheel at the back won't have a problem turning.

Then two wheels on top of (and touching) the front wheels so that you move by turning the top wheels (which are in reach) that turn on the bottom wheels.  You'll have to turn them in the opposite direction but that should be better for stability.

Anyway, just my 2 cent idea.
kelseymh Koosie7 years ago
The term "wheelchair-bound" is considered derogatory language in the disability community.

Wheelchair users have a lot of opinions about this.  The low center of gravity is inherently safe, but it does create substantial access problems.  The large wheels used on manual chairs are there to allow for easy arm access for movement, as well as enough torque to get up to speed.  You'll note that motorized chairs use four equally sized smaller wheels.

There are a number of motorized chair designs which support vertical movement.  A quick Web search should find them.
Koosie kelseymh7 years ago
I remember many years ago seeing a man in a vertical, electrical chair.  It looked like the batteries and motors gave the base weight support.  A clever design but hugely expensive.  Surely some-one can design a simple (non-electric) chair similar to that.
kelseymh7 years ago
Hi, Jaye.  The fundamental issue with properly designing assistive technology is working with the end users.  Trying to figure out what someone else needs on your own, then designing it, then pushing it on the user community, is very much the old medical model of disability -- "we know better than you."

I would highly encourage you to contact your local independent living center (ILC or CIL is the generic acronym, depending on your locale).  Talk to their program director (or executive director, if the center is small) in person, if possible.  If you don't come across as wackos, they should be able to hook you up with some of their consumers to give you ideas, feedback and participation.

Ah good,  I posted:    Feb 19, 2010. 3:22 PM
 Kelseymh might be able to give you a few ideas too.
And here he is :-) 
What can I say?  I smelled the burning goat, and can I tell you what a lovely pentagram that is!  >:-)
Be careful, it's hard to get that burning goat smell out of your clothes!
who  got your goat ? 
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