May.17, 2013 | By Geraldine Bouvry

Have you ever encountered a broken arm or leg? If so, you understand how frustrating it is not to be able to grab what you want or spend more time than usual for basic and recurrent tasks, such as feeding yourself.

While this remains temporary for most of us, many elderly people with arthritis problems face those situations on a daily basis.

This is how the "Nautilus Bowl" was born: inspired by interviews with Asian American stroke survivors and arthritis patients at San Francisco's Self Help for the Elderly, this tool can be easily held by those with severely weakened grips or reduced hand dexterity.

And surprisingly enough, this project was initiated by two young ladies, Shelly Ni and Gaïa Orain, who decided to tackle the concerns of the elderly people, an ever-growing population whose needs are yet being ignored, at least in the design field.

Shelly is a Brooklyn-based designer and MFA (Master of Fine Arts) Interaction Design candidate at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) while Gaïa is a grad student at the same school, in Brooklyn.

For Shelly, seeing a catalog of these "adaptive eating utensils," as they're known, was a revelation. "It was very shocking to me," she says. "All of the products looked like they were for toddlers".

With her Chinese origins, Shelly designed a bowl which preserves the strong Asian cultural norm of holding the bowl up to eat, presenting a physically and culturally more comfortable solution for users who struggle with the previously simple daily task of feeding themselves.

The Nautilus design was originally developed from discussions with potential bowl-users and therapists, who emphasized the importance of a hand position that was neutral and comfortable. It also features a silicon grip.

Shelly got positive feedback from the 3-D printed prototype she made. There is room for improvement though: "the rim needs to be thinner," Gaïa says. "It has to be universal grip, so left and right." And most importantly, it needs to be made of a material that's food-safe, which isn't yet possible with the 3-D printers available in the SVA's "Visible Futures Lab" where the two have been working.

Shelly and Gaïa will spend May and June 3-D printing bowls and using those to cast ceramic, food-safe versions. By June they hope to be designing a version that could be mass produced, and they're looking at both a cheaper option for institutions (likely from a food-safe plastic) as well as a more attractive option for use at home.

Proof of success already? The Nautilus Bowl was one of the winners of the New York's Next Top Makers competition.

The following video showcases the two creators explaining their project:


 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

 

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