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MS Assistive Device: Obi Dinner Plate

May 15, 2017

Obi, a robot that helps the differently abled feed themselves, can help improve the lives of people with ALS and MS. Obi includes a placement with a dinner-plate-sized dish with four compartments on top, which mount onto a white platform. Attached to one side of the platform is a robotic arm fitted with a spoon. Once Obi is placed on a table in front of the recipient, a caregiver can grasp the arm and teach Obi the delivery location. After that, the robot is able to replicate the process.

Jon Dekar, who developed the first Obi prototype in 2006 while studying to become a mechanical engineer at University of Dayton, explained how unhappy and frustrated people feel with being fed or forced fed by others. According to him, they also feel guilty asking another for constant help. Dekar, along with his retired father, founded the company DESIN and honed the robot’s design to function as a seamless eating aid for the differently abled.

Obi can be empowering for the differently abled. It’s rechargeable and users can attach two accessibility switches to it. It can scrape the sides of bowls to pick up differently textured items. It sold for $4,500 on its website.