We love all the high-tech rehab robots being developed, but if we’d find ourselves paralyzed we’d prefer not to have to manipulate various parts of our mouth and face, or have electrodes implanted in our skull, to move a robotic arm to simply feed ourselves. With iCRAFT (eye Controlled Robotic Arm Feeding Technology), a senior capstone project developed by students at Northeastern University, moving a robotic arm is as simple as moving your eyes.
With the iCRAFT system, there is absolutely no physical connection between the device and the user. All the user needs to do is look at one of four large, brightly-colored rectangles on a computer screen that corresponds to his or her food or drink choice. The eye-tracking camera near the monitor and the special software takes care of the rest, tracking the user’s pupil movements and activating a robot arm with attached eating accoutrement to scoop the food and bring it to the user’s mouth.
The simplicity of the system makes it an attractive solution for giving paralyzed patients more independence in eating with minimal help from a caregiver. Current self-feeding devices on the market cost around $3500, but iCRAFT can be constructed for just around $900. Best of all, the team has published the robotics plans online and has released the software as a free, open-source download so anyone can make their own iCRAFT system.
Here’s a video of iCRAFT in action serving these college seniors a gourmet college meal:
More from Northeastern University: Engineering capstone offers independence to physically disabled…
(hat tip: Engadget)