Vol. 1, Issue 4 -- August 1996

Auto-Vac Design Team

By Shirley Gipson

The Auto-Vac team is moving into Summer with new ideas but staying focused on old business.

Up for consideration at the January 25th meeting was whether to continue designing a system that would only be able to vacuum or to develop a design with interchangeable modular components. It was decided that the engineers go ahead with the modular concept. With this decision, questions arose:

After discussion of these issues, the decision was made to build a modular tray and have a simple demo of this mock-up. The group discussed design limits, and the following restrictions were set for the first go-around with these components:

* Some changes have been made to the control interface. The unit has a new molded faceplate that fits tightly, and the controls can be adjusted for right- or left-handed use. These changes required some minor adjustments to the on/off switch and the directional color coding needed to be re-applied. Once these refinements are completed, the whole system will go out for another home evaluation.

To make the control interface more consumer friendly, the group discussed making the unit compatible with a wheelchair joystick, linking the interface to a computer or having push buttons.

The design team also did some brainstorming on other kinds of modular components that could be used instead of the vacuum. Some ideas included: a powered assistant for a manual wheelchair, a floor polisher, a robot base, and an off road/beach recreational travel assistant.

Finally, efforts continue to firm up a relationship with Kinetic Rehabilitation Instruments (KRI) to have them manufacture our device. A legal agreement that enables us to share designs while safeguarding our ideas is being developed by the legal advisors of our parent institutions, the University of Delaware and the A. I. duPont Institute. KRI has been shown a draft of this agreement, but refinements are still needed before information can be exchanged freely. (Another reminder of why it takes so long for new assistive technology to become commercially available!)

For more information, check out the Auto-Vac Design Team Home Page.

Also in this issue: