Even as mundane a task as feeding oneself can be a great problem for the disabled. There are millions of persons with disabilities who need assistance while feeding themselves. This is why, a robotic food tray that can feed the disabled can go a long way in making the disabled independent.
Food trays, spoons, forks and water glasses have been customised for long to make it easier for the disabled to feed themselves but there are many cases when even these adaptations don’t work. Many persons with disabilities simply have to be fed – there has to be another human around who can pick up the food and put it in the mouth.
There is a robotic food tray called Obi, an eating aid for the disabled with an arm holding a spoon. The tray has different sections for different food items like any other regular food tray. The robotic food tray has four compartments at the top for placing various food items. On the side there is a sleek robotic arm with a spoon.
For the first time when the robotic food tray is used the spoon has to be directed to the disabled person’s mouth but once it has learned where the mouth is, it can work on its own.
As explained in this QZ report on the robotic food tray that can feed the disabled, the tray has been developed by Jon Dekar who developed the first Obi prototype back in 2006 while studying to become a mechanical engineer at University of Dayton.
What is the significance of a robotic tray that can feed a disabled person?
Feeding is not a simple, mechanical chore. You would like to share your dinner with your family. If your disability doesn’t allow you to eat on your own, there is one family member in constant attendance. For example, in the video above, the person says that he really loves it when his wife sits in front of him and enjoys her meals without having to worry about feeding him, while the robotic tray feeds him.
Similarly, if you want to go to a restaurant with someone, without such a tray, you always require someone to feed you. With the robotic tray placed in front of you, the other person can simply sit in front of you while you have your food on your own.