SmartCan is a new direction to the realm of smart devices. It is a hi-tech soda can that is designed to help stroke patients. It was an interesting industrial design project that I worked on, with a team of researchers at the University at Buffalo.
Patients diagnosed with stroke go through a rehab program which involves certain exercises prescribed by a physician. After a certain stage, many people are given home exercises to be performed daily or intermittently over the week, such as lifting small objects, twisting them and placing them on different location, to improve their motor movement. But compliance is an issue. In chronic cases, an important factor to improve motor movements is consistency, accuracy and practice.
SmartCan is a home-based portable system designed to measure compliance with home exercises. It appears like a soda can but it actually is a high-tech measurement devices that measures accuracy of movements in 3D space by use of magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope and communicates this data with the physician over the internet. Based on the data collected, physician can make recommendations to the patients or change their exercises to improve their motor skills.
I reiterated the product design of the SmartCan with user centered design approach and modeled various prototypes in SolidWorks, which is a 3D modeling software. The challenge in front of me was to come up with a weight optimized design, which can simulate three conditions: empty can, half empty can and filled can, while giving enough room for the electronic components and also make provision for mounting them. Along with a goal to fulfill these requirements, I gave emphasis on intuitive appeal, to make it look like a real soda can by attention to details such as dimensions, chamfer, pop open knob, etc. We 3D-printed our final design and it was satisfying to see the outcome. I would surely say that my 3D modeling skills were put to test with this project.
This project is led by James Lenker, PhD, OTR/L and Nikhil Satchidanand, PhD., Jeanne Langan, Ph.D., Lora Cavuoto, Ph.D., Ifeoma Nwogu, Ph.D and Heamcand Subryan. It was fun to work on this project and it was fulfilling to be a part of a project that has potential to create an impact.