A close family friend recently suffered from a fall. A combination of factors led to the fall, such as reluctance to use an assistive device, poor communication network throughout the house, and inaccessible design. We sought out to address some of the issues that exasperate this problem experienced in our elderly population. Over 40% of those 65 and older will have at least one fall a year. While a cane can minimize falls, the cane falling posses a danger. Bending down is a high risk motion, and can cause falls.
What it does
Upon falling, the cane raises itself to hip level to allow the user to easily pick it back up. It can also send an alert to family to check up on the individual.
How we built it
One team member used Autodesk Inventor to design a gear assembly and 3D printed it. The other team member worked on the backend and configured to code to send an SMS via twilio. We then added legs to raise the cane and attached them to the motor and a 9V DC battery.
Challenges we ran into
The support for our gear broke, preventing the design from working as intended. We had to modify the design to allow it to remain partially functional. Finding a balance between rapid, strong, and precise 3D printing proved to be a surmountable challenge to accomplish in 24 hours. Twilio was difficult to configure and tutorials ate up a lot of our time which could have been spent integrating more functionality.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
CAD: Interfacing multiple subassemblies and constraining them to a model cane and motor was a very time consuming task, but it proved to be incredibly helpful as an accurate system allowed for faster design iterations in Inventor. The model brought us closer to a "one and done" prototype (but not all the way).
Twilio: Configuring Twilio was a challenge. We were finally able to do this after hours of tutorials and debugging.
What we learned
-Twilio: Enough said. -Gear Design: Gear design on Inventor seemed like black magic prior to this project. By the end, we were able to fully integrate a bevel gear system into our design! -Cane usage: In our development of this project, we got familiar common pitfalls of assistive walking devices
What's next for The self standing cane
A better gear assembly that can withstand the greater torque delivered from our motor. Further optimization can be done to slim the design of the cane and integrate the hardware inside the body. An option to share the location of the cane in the event of a fall. This will alert the emergency contact as to where the individual was if they need to be checked up on.