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17 Aug, 2013

Assistive Wheelchair Tray Developed to Help People with Disabilities Use iPads


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– August 15, 2013 – “RoboDesk,” a motorized wheelchair tray, could provide people with disabilities with an efficient and easy-to-use method to more easily position and remove an iPad or other mobile devices without being limited by a table or moving in and out of the chair.

Brad Duerstock, a Purdue University associate professor of engineering practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Industrial Engineering, is developing the technology and other assistance technologies in the Purdue Institute for Accessible Science.

“Our primary goal is to foster independence and improve quality of life, and one area that is a challenge that I’ve had and what I have witnessed other people having is easy access to using mobile devices like iPads and smartphones,” said Duerstock, director of the Purdue institute and a quadriplegic. “Right now wheelchair users, especially those with upper limb mobility limitations, do not have an easy way to place a mobile device in their lap and then retract the device when not in use. The RoboDesk does that.

“The RoboDesk uses a motorized mount on a wheelchair that utilizes an arm to deploy or retract a mobile electronic device such as a tablet or lightweight notebook. The assistive tray’s multifunctional design enables it to be used for other purposes, as well, such as a writing surface or meal tray. The mount for the RoboDesk does not exceed the width of a wheelchair, which is important to users because it does not impede their ability to maneuver through doorways.

“We’ve designed the RoboDesk so it does not affect a wheelchair’s normal seat functions such as tilting, reclining or elevating, and it does not inhibit the user’s ability to transfer in and out of a wheelchair,” Duerstock said. “It is extremely versatile.”

Duerstock is working to make the RoboDesk compatible with various types of manual and electric or battery-operated wheelchairs. “My goal is to get the RoboDesk licensed and manufactured within the next three years,” he said.

For more information, email otcip@prf.org or visit http://otc-prf.org/available-technologies.