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From left, Melody Smith, Tanuj Ahuja '19 and Roosevelt Island resident Jay Jacobson show the universal hinges they developed.

NYC Cornell students solve tech challenges for Roosevelt Island seniors

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Rebecca Valli

This semester, students from Cornell Tech and Weill Cornell Medicine teamed up with Roosevelt Island seniors to understand some of the challenges older adults face and how technology solutions could make their lives easier.

Over the past seven weeks, the MakerLAB — led by Niti Parikh, the lab’s creative lead at Cornell Tech’s Tata Innovation Center hosted the students and Roosevelt Island seniors as they developed solutions based on the residents’ real-life challenges. Six interdisciplinary teams leveraged 3D printing technology and design thinking to transform ideas into physical products.

Challenge #1: How might we create a product that will help consumers remember everyday tasks? Students developed a mobile app-based reminder to take your keys before leaving home, straps to hang keys near the door and plastic adapters to grasp keys more easily for seniors with arthritis.

Challenge #2: How might we develop a product that will help our consumers with getting dressed? Students developed assistive mechanisms with hooks to button up a shirt and an existing sock support tool.

Challenge #3: How might we develop a product to help our consumers with limited strength/dexterity to use household products? Students created an adjustable strap to help open doorknobs, jars, bottles, etc., and to tighten those items, as well.

Challenge #4: How might we create, modify or augment existing products to improve their accessibility for our consumers – i.e., grasping, holding, twisting, opening, lifting, identifying? Students created a device that latches onto a seat belt for easier application.

Challenge #5: How might we create a product that enhances our consumers’ ability to carry essentials when they leave their residences? Students developed a universal hinge that clasps onto a walker with a small platform to set a bag on top.

Challenge #6: How might we develop a product that could enhance physical activity for our consumers with limited mobility? Students created a device that holds an iPad to practice physical therapy online, and clamps to a walker for seniors to practice movements on their own.


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