Brad Duerstock, an associate professor at Purdue University's Biomedical Engineering Department, has developed a motorized desk, dubbed the "RoboDesk", in the hopes that it can be used by powerchair users to help increase their employment opportunities. More information and a video after the jump.
While the idea of a retractable desk mounted on a wheelchair is not new, the RoboDesk is a creative and well thought-out option for powerchair users who need a convenient and accessible platform to mount a tablet, smartphone, or laptop to their wheelchair that does not impede on normal powerchair function. When stowed, the RoboDesk is designed to be positioned so that it does not add any additional width to the existing powerchair. The position of the RoboDesk when stowed is such that transferring in and out of the chair is also not compromised, which is a quality that a number of other wheelchair-mounted desks do not have. To use RoboDesk, the user simply uses a switch and the desk articulates into position.
Duerstock developed RoboDesk to encourage powerchair users to enter the workforce. "Only 2% of people working in the sciences age 35 or younger have a disability; however, people with disabilities represent 10.4% of the overall U.S. workforce," Duerstock says. "I believe we are losing a lot of talented people who could make a difference if they're given the tools and opportunities to succeed. I want to make it easier for them to actively participate in their educational endeavors."
Duerstock is continuing to refine RoboDesk to make it compatible with other types of wheelchairs, both powered and manual. His goal is to get RoboDesk licensed and manufactured within the next 3 years. Check out the clip below. Enjoy!