Assistive Dining Device for Visually Impaired

Introduction: Assistive Dining Device for Visually Impaired

Problem Statement:

People with visual impairment often find eating independently difficult, specifically with locating and picking up food. People with speed-eating struggle with eating slowly, which can be dangerous for them. The goal of this project is to create a plate for a blind client that allows them to both locate and pick up food, as well as slow the consumption speed to a safe level.

Target Audience:

This project is for blind or visually impaired people with speed-eating difficulties who want a plate that allows them to eat more independently with a utensil.

Competitor Analysis *see last 3 images above:

Generic Flat Plate:

Cost: $5

Pros: Cheap, simple, easily accessible

Cons: No features to help locate food or prevent speed-eating

GripWare Partitioned Plate:

Cost: $8

Pros: Affordable, dividers may make locating food easier

Cons: Could make speed-eating easier

Eatsy Plate:

Cost: Unknown

Pros: Contours help with locating and picking up food

Cons: Not currently on the market, could increase speed-eating

Selected Approach:

This device is a contoured plate with a recess, and within the recess there are three cones to slow the eating rate. The contours guide the food into the recess, which provides the user with a smaller area to search for food. The cones require the user to maneuver around them, slowing the eating rate.

Step 1: Design Requirements

Step 2: Materials and Tools

Materials:

  1. PETG Filament (food-safe)
    1. https://www.amazon.com/HATCHBOX-3D-Filament-Dimens...
    2. approx. 200g used
  2. Round Dycem Mat (5.5")
    1. https://www.amazon.com/Dycem-50-1595G-Non-Slip-Ci...
  3. Art Resin or other food-safe epoxy
    1. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BX6893Y/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_olTXEbQ41APJ9

Tools:

  1. 3D Printer
    1. Print bed must be at least 10"x10"
  2. CAD Software (SolidWorks)
  3. 3D Slicer Software

Step 3: Build Process

  1. The device consists of two parts, a 3D printed plate, a 3D printed spoon. The device works well with just the plate, but the deep head of the spoon and built up handle make it easier to use and prevent the food from spilling.
  2. Both the plate and spoon were designed using Solidworks. There are images attached of sketches of the designs, and the stl/sldprt files for both pieces are posted on Thingiverse.
    1. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4383955
  3. The files need to be printed in PET or PETG, because they are food-safe filaments. The recommended infill is 15-25%. The plate does not need supports, but the spoon does.
  4. After printing the designs, the plate and spoon need to be coated in a food-safe epoxy to prevent bacterial buildup between filament layers, and to increase durability.
  5. After letting the epoxy cure, attach the Dycem mat to the bottom of the plate, either with superglue or more epoxy resin.

Step 4: Using the Device

Steps:

  1. Place desired quantity of food (preferably bite-sized) in the top area of the plate
  2. Orient the plate such that the nub on the front of the plate is directly in front of the user
  3. Use spoon to draw food from the top area of the plate into the recess
  4. Pick up food by drawing it between the cones and then bringing the spoon out the front of the plate

Safety:

  • Be careful to avoid bacterial buildup by coating the 3D printed parts thoroughly in epoxy

Care/Maintenance:

  • Hand-wash with soap and water unless epoxy coating is known to protect against dishwashing
  • Do not expose the plate or spoon to extreme heat as it could cause deformation

Step 5: Future Extensions

Some future extensions for this project could include:

  • Creating a fork version of the spoon design
  • Testing different designs for potentially more durability
  • Modify plate to better address a specific individual's needs

Step 6: Resources and References

Resources:

Thingiverse Link: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4383955

References:

GripWare Partitioned Scoop Dish. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.ncmedical.com/item_221.html

Hints for Easier Eating and Pouring. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.visionaware.org/info/essential-skills...

Lim, J. (2017, May 4). EATSY - Adaptive Tableware for the Visually Impaired. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.behance.net/gallery/52272319/EATSY-Ad...

Visual impairment, blindness cases in U.S. expected to double by 2050. (2016, May 19). Retrieved March 28, 2020, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/vis...

What Does It Mean To Be Legally blind? (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.essilorusa.com/newsroom/what-does-it-...

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