The Modern Cane

Hacking Medicine | Projects

  • The final product our group had was the modern cane with a lighting system embedded within the middle cane leg. The cane is designed to work as a third leg for someone who is either handicapped, physically impaired, or for a senior citizen. The base of the cane has a broad width in order for stability and has rounded sides in order for the user to mimic the motion of a foot when walking with the cane. The initial model was supposed to incorporate a pedomiter and bluetooth system, however there were significant problems with fitting the electronics into the handle and having them work successfully. However, the lighting function was still able to function in the final model which was the main focus with the electronics portion. The inspiration came from two new canes that had very modern designs and had a heavy technological focus. The cane was based off of two different models and the electronics were inspired by the Fujitsu cane. In the final design the cane has a button on the top of the handle which connects to an arduino that activates the LED lights that are in the middle clear cane leg. The clear leg is surrounded by 3 other wooden legs in order to maintain the support of the user's weight on the cane.

  • Brainstorming:

    Our studio began with the introduction to healthcare and its daily issues. The background of our coaches and their intrigue to teach us about these issues in healthcare and the different perspectives that are present were interesting. It was emphasized that sometimes its easier for those unfamiliar with the systems of healthcare to invent applications or new ideas because they have a different vision. It's important to question why something is the way it is and what issues it creates. We were all very ambitious at the beginning of the studio and wanted to create something brand new solving a pressing issue but we didn't realize the brainstorming process itself was time consuming. We deviated from our initial plans of creating something new because of the time restraint of two weeks so we decided to improve an important tool in the healthcare industry that needs transformation. We present to you the journey to creating our modern cane!

    Inspirations & Cane Decisions:

    This process was not simple. It went from researching to what was out there first to transforming an existing tool that millions of people use worldwide. We had to decide the structure of the cane and what applications we wanted to incorporate. The Fujitsu Cane was an inspiration for our handle. We knew that we wanted our handle to be thicker and rounder for more comfort and insertion of applications. Our ambitious brainstorming ideas included the insertion of a life alert button, wrist handle, pedometer, thank you/please move out of the way and medicine compartment. The Isowalk was another inspiration for our foot and cane leg. The Isowalk leg helped create a supportive and stable cane leg while also helping us decide that a rounded foot is the best design to comfortably assist our customer. 

    Our Journey to the Official Cane:

    First we organized our ideas for the official cane leg. Initially we wanted use the tripod mechanism for the cane leg so storage could be convenient for the customer. After testing the tripod mechanism we decided that it would be too dangerous because when a lot of pressure is applied it could collapse and create a health hazard. Therefore, our group decided we would stick to a stylistic and lighter cane leg with three wooden poles, an acrylic pole for LED lights and multiple base holders. The base holders had four holes and we had to precisely 3D design them in order to make sure that they fit and were stable with the other poles. This process required numerous reprinting and testing and after great team work we finally created the best base holder for our cane.

    Next was the decisions we had to make for the handle. After 3D modeling the handle we had to 3D print the handle and insert screws to combine the two sides. While creating the handle we programmed the LED lights with an arduino. We had issues with the size of the battery and decided that we needed to reprint one side of our handle in order to fit all of our components. After completing the handle we couldn't implement the life alert button because it was pricey but it could easily be applied to a cane if this project was picked up in the future. We didn't implement the wrist strap because we ran out of material and we attempted to program the audio for our command buttons but we had issues with obtaining the correct audio files for our coding. Therefore, we were left with our pedometer. We spent time trying to test our pedometer and whether or not it tracked our footsteps. We tried placing it on the bottom and back of the handle and it didn't work. After that we tried placing it at the top, bottom, and middle of our cane leg and that didn't work either. Sadly, we had to remove our pedometer but as a team we decided that if we were to pick it up as our independent project we would implement all of our amazing applications. We programmed the LED lights and used a touch sensor button that tracks the heat of one's finger to trigger the LED lights on and off. Our LED lights were great because they are really important to customers, especially in the night time. It allows our customers to place their cane next to them if ever needed for support at night. 

    What We Learned:

    We learned that team work is key and ambitions are great but you have to accept what you have and what you can work with. Our team was great at transitioning from multiple adjustments along the journey. If one idea didn't work we were open to jumping to another one or teaming up and attempting to brainstorm new ideas that could enhance our product. Although our final didn't match our initial sketches I am very proud of our team and our final product. We had numerous challenges but we worked through them and were able to experience the special skills design teams at companies need in order to be successful.