TRIZ Challenge - March 2002

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TRIZ Challenge - March 2002

By: Ian Care

We challenge you to use your TRIZ skills and your knowledge to help solve a humanitarian or social problem. We hope that you will submit your results for publication in the TRIZ journal. Every few months we will set a new challenge - but that does not mean that you cannot continue to work on previous challenges, indeed you may have chosen to work on this for your project or coursework.

Send your results, ideas, comments and suggestions for future challenges to challenge@triz-journal.com.

This month's challenge is an engineering challenge with a social aspect. How can a person in a wheelchair carry their drink and move their wheelchair around to socialise at a party?

Imagine yourself to be a (non-motorised) wheelchair user at a party. You are handed a drink (this could be a wineglass, a beer bottle, a tankard, a cup, or a mug) and a plate of small eats (pretzels, nuts, salad etc.). The plate and drinks container belong to your host, so you cannot assume that they have any special adaptations to suit your device, to feel included with everyone else you prefer to use what is provided rather than bring your own crockery. Now where do you put the drink and plate while you use your hands to propel the wheelchair over to the group over there that appear to be having an interesting conversation - but without spilling the food or drink, nor asking for help, nor leaving them behind.

For someone in a wheelchair to feel socially independent, they do not want to have to ask for help whenever they want to move around.

Can you devise a device that will do this?

Can it either be of use at other times or out of the way, when for instance going around the supermarket?

What happens when you go down the step out to the barbecue on the patio?

Does it get in the way when your (prospective) partner sits on your lap to kiss you?

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A few years ago I tackled this problem for a friend of ours. My device used an adjustable gripper based on half of a pair of handcuffs mounted in a double gimble bearing arrangement. The bearing allowed it to twist parallel to the side of the arm of the wheel chair and house itself under the arm similar to a table on an aircraft seat. This worked well for moving around a smooth floor and going down slopes. The 'shock' of the chair going off the edge of a carpet or going down steps tended to make the drink splash.

Can you improve on my design?

Sadly my friend died shortly before Christmas last year. His long term partner died on the day of his funeral.

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