By: Robert Loos
September 09, 2014
Luis Garcia has a vision. It troubles him to think about how embarrassing a person could feel to have to rely on another person for something as simple as eating a snack. For this reason he wants to build an affordable mealtime assistant robot that helps those who have difficulty eating: HelloSpoon.
Garcia, a 23 year old recent college grad and mechatronics engineer, is finally seeing that vision become reality. He began developing the robot in his own bedroom and with the help of feedback from his blog and endless tinkering, HelloSpoon has evolved from a fuzz-covered, jerry-rigged looking contraption to a sleek and smooth elephant-like robot. The clean lines of the final design look like something crafted by the always-hip minds at Apple.
HelloSpoon responds to voice commands and can pick up food from a bowl to feed it to its user. For children, it can also make eating fun with optional features like having music play with every scoop, cheering after every bite, and dancing when the user finishes their meal.
What sets HelloSpoon apart is its low price. HelloSpoon relegates the processor, speaker and microphone to the user’s smartphone, drastically cutting the cost of production. There are no cameras or sensors, allowing HelloSpoon to cost only $499, much cheaper than other, similar solutions.
HelloSpoon Presentation Video - Luis Garcia
To prove that the idea of HelloSpoon is not just a hobby, Garcia is currently in contact with the Dutch care organization "Eizt" (Expertise center for innovative care and technology).
Through implementing HelloSpoon as topic for a multidisciplinairy course for care innovations, involving both Engineering and Occupational Therapy students, feasibility of his design for practical application in long term care will be assessed. Their reports will give valuable feedback on end user interaction and could be used to further improve the design of HelloSpoon.
Between a possible collaboration with Eizt and the upcoming Indiegogo campaign, it looks inevitable that Garcia’s dream will come true.
Now Garcia is gearing up to start an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, with a goal of raising $35,000 to complete the project. Since the main core of HelloSpoon is ready and implemented, the money raised on Indiegogo will go towards improving the robustness of the robotic trunk and the smoothness of motion.
There are so-called "perks" available, which are rewards for donating to the project depending on how much you pledge. These perks range from getting your name listed as a supporter on the HelloSpoon website for a $25 donation to a HelloSpoon robot being donated in your name to someone in need for a $799 donation.
Read more about HelloSpoon