My family came up for the weekend of Columbus day for a fair. During the ride, we began talking about engineering. We talked about robotic arms, how they work, and about the concept of the Uncanny Valley. The industrial design department had a tremendous influence on the final aesthetic outcome. A couple ways of getting around the valley were to avoid it all together and make it look like a robot. Why? Because… Another option is to make it an art piece – the nails can be removed and replaced with decorated nails, the exterior can be painted and personalized. The future of robotic limbs is full of art!
Our conversation then evolved into the electric wheelchair that can climb stairs and balance on two wheels. An issue one member of my family noted was the inability to adjust the angle of headrests in cars, and that the headrest of the wheelchair was no different. The headrest is able to move vertically, attached by two metal rods with divots to set the length. The ability to adjust the headrest in any way could potentially increase the comfort of the user.
We got to the fair. We spent all day there and had a great time!
Later that night I had a brilliant epiphany – one metal pole! On the top of it – a ball joint! The rest will snap into the metal rod with a soft plastic socket, and the headrest itself will have a hole in the center allowing the head to nestle in and give hands-free control. I called them up the next evening all excited and told them about my brilliant, totally unique ground breaking idea.
“Yes, a swivel socket you mean!”
That’s what I mean, I guess.
“Yeah there’s a few models with that attachment but you don’t see them much.”
In the back of my mind I knew I wasn’t the first to think of that. Now I feel dumb.
“But you thought of it on your own. You saw a problem and sought out solutions, that’s what matters in this field. Maybe you will envision an entirely new concept in engineering, just keep working at it.”
I got a small amount of courage from knowing I’m on a similar wavelength as engineers and artists. I’m doing the process correctly and will eventually be able to make my own path.