IdeaLab - Access Technology

Saturday, November 4th and Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Simone Center, Student Innovation Hall 87-1600


The Access Technology IdeaLab focuses on medical technologies by creating products and service access solutions for organizations like Al Sigl. Students are split up into multidisciplinary teams and spend the weekend working on solutions for real world problems.

The following are projects from the Access Technology IdeaLab in October 2016:


Currently people who are wheelchair bound use a product called a SitSki when they want to go skiing. It is challenging to stabilize the SitSki while trying to transfer an individual from a wheelchair and placing them on the SitSki. An additional challenge that often occurs is during slippery and unstable environment situations such as snow and ice on the ground. Develop a lift that supports both of these functions that is safe for the individual as well as those responsible for the lifting and transferring process. Ideally this would also support the Boating Transfer challenge, i.e., instead of two separate lifts, one common lift that supports both activities and possibly others.


Individuals with attention disorders often have difficulty following procedures and interacting cooperatively with others. Rock climbing can provide an opportunity to integrate both of these activities at the same time. Currently providing the opportunity to participate safely in rock climbing activities requires 1:1 interaction and support to provide the necessary prompting to proceed to the next location on a climbing wall. This limits the number of individuals who can participate at one time to the number of support personnel available, which also impedes self-initiated collaborative interaction with other individuals. Provide a system of configurable climbing wall features that would prompt a climbing path, promote non-verbal prompting capabilities so that 1:1 support is not required and also motivate socialization and interpersonal interaction.


To help individuals become more comfortable with being in the water, they will often use activities incorporating the retrieval of some object at progressively greater depths. This progression typically includes starting out just under the surface, then moving to inches under the surface, a foot under the surface, a depth where the face comes in contact with water, a depth where the face would need to be the under water etc. Design an adjustable buoyancy submersion retrieval object that will enable an incremental process of becoming comfortable with contact in the water.


Wheel bound individuals who want to experience boating in a watercraft such as a kayak, face a huge challenge of being transferred from their wheelchair into the kayak. This commonly occurs on a dock that may be somewhat unstable and not designed for the additional weight and limited maneuverability of a wheelchair. Design a portable lift that will allow the safe transfer of an individual from a wheelchair at a dockside location into a kayak. Safety includes the individual being transferred as well as the caregivers or facilitators. Ideally this would also support the Adaptive Ski lift challenge, i.e., instead of two separate lifts, one common lift that supports both activities and possibly others.


There is no efficient way of assessing efforts associated with wheelchair use to improve health-promoting exercise. Retrofit a wheelchair to provide feedback for the individual and caregivers and help determine how much energy the individual exerts during the course of a day.


There are not enough games for people to play that can promote collaborative interaction among individuals with a variety of disabilities while also including individuals without disabilities. Design a game that provides an opportunity for cooperative interaction in a team format for individuals with limited motor skills and mobility. This game should be fun, teach users cause and effect, control, and also incorporate remote controlled physical game pieces.


Tablets provide an extremely configurable interface for users who have the ability to provide the fine stereotyped movements necessary to interact with the tablet touch interface such as swiping and selecting. The problem is that some individuals do not have these fine motor skills to perform these movements. Design a system that translates the individual’s available movement abilities into the type of input the tablet normally expects without modifying the tablet software or hardware.


Individuals who have limited motor control face the challenge of eating their food independently. Their limitations often require that the food dishes be affixed to a surface to provide stabilization when utensils cannot be precisely controlled. This commonly necessitates 1:1 caregiver support when there is more than one dish involved in a meal. Develop a system that enables optimal positioning and stabilizing of multiple dishes and drinks that are part of a meal. This should also include public eating environments for individuals with motor control challenges such as Parkinson’s Disease, Essential Tremor, Cerebral Palsy and others.

IdeaLab Project Library

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