We're back for another day of exploring the Northeastern University labs. We checked out a handful of projects yesterday, including the HyCycle, a runner-up in the school's Capstone award. Today we checked out the winner: iCRAFT -- that's short for eye-Controlled Robotic Arm Feeding Technology. The project was developed by a group of seven electrical and computer engineering students looking to create an inexpensive solution for helping the disabled and elderly feed themselves at home. As the Apple-esque name implies, the project utilizes eye-tracking to help the user feed him or herself.
The hardware side of the project involves a robotic arm and controller (which run a combined $640), a hacked Creative webcam and IR light (around $114), three bowls, a water bottle and a custom built power supply. On the software side, the team used the open-source ITU gaze tracker software, combined with a custom GUI. The whole thing is designed to be simple to use right out of the box -- though, being in prototype stage, there were naturally a few hiccups in the process. It didn't work perfectly when we demoed it today, but it certainly wasn't much more buggy than what many companies try to pass off as finished products.