While doing research our team noticed the wide usage of shopping/grocery carts among the elderly. This was preferred to a classic mobility device such as a walker, even though they provide more stability and better support.
Unlike the walkers, shopping carts are cheaper, more readily available, and provide a practical use. Yet, they do not have the "geriatric label" on them , as everyone uses shopping carts.
We are planning to modify the shopping cart in order to create a device which is more familiar, comfortable, useful, and at the same time, provides sufficient support to prevent falls and ensures safety. The cart will also have a braking system so that it is easier for the elderly to stop it when they are using it.
We do not want to make the cart as an alternative to devices such as walkers and rollators. But we want the carts to be safer so that the elderly who will avoid using the assistive devices, can move around safely.
Update 1: April 7th 2017 (New things explored and new team member added):
We have been working on the design and wan to make many changes to the prototype. We bought a cart from Amazon to see how functional it is. This is what we observed:
- Bad handle design, and it can easily slip away.
- Tedious to put the cart together, even with the instructions
- Easily slips back, needs weight inside the cart for it to not slip.
- Not adjustable in any way
- There is an open hook like metal part that is on both the sides. If we are not careful, it can hurt the user
- Folds pretty well, so it is easy to keep it leaned against a wall without taking too much space.
What we are going to do?
Transform the one one the left to the one on the right, and we are really excited about this!
We are meeting an industrial designer friend to explore more designs.
Update 2: April 18th 2017 (Sketch concept of the current prototype):
Below is a sketch of the prototype we are working on. The new cart has two comfortable handles, instead of a sloppy handle with a movable plastic cover. They are adjustable, and the wheels have a better chance of stopping because of the brakes. Also, a diffraction grating will generate lines to show how uneven the surface ahead is.
Update 3: April 19th 2017 (Physical prototype, Brakes still need to be attached)
We have begun assembling the prototype. As you can see in the image, Sepehr (our team mate), is over 6 feet tall, and it is easier for him to grab onto the handles, because they are closer to his arms. There is a patch of light coming out from the front which is helpful for the user to detect uneven surfaces, and be more vigilant. We are still working on the brake part, which will be done by tonight. The parts are made of plastic, so they are not heavy. But, the design needs to be a bit more modified so that the cart doesn't fall off on the user's side (this can happen if the new extended parts are made of heavy objects like metals).
The red and blue parts are 3D printed. The red part can be adjusted for different heights.
Here are the images below: