Voice-assisted ‘foodbuddy’ lets people without functioning arms eat independently

The amount of food & breaks between doses of a meal can be adjusted and controlled with voice commands.

First-year engineers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IIT-Gandhinagar) have invented a technology to help people (with or without disabilities) eat without the need to use their arms. The device, called 'Foodbuddy', lets people without arms or fully-functioning motor skills eat independently. When connected through Google Assistant or Alexa, the device can work based on voice commands. The inspiration to build such a device came from watching one of their friends struggle with cerebral palsy.

"The pain of our friend moved us to make a device that will solve the problem of many who lost their hands or could not use their hands," Chris Francis, one of the developers, told PTI"Generally, a family member, friend or an employed caregiver feeds the person, but sometimes this leads to problems when the caretaker has to be away for a while or is not in a state to feed a person," he added.

Voice-assisted ‘foodbuddy’ lets people without functioning arms eat independently

Robots and robotic devices are increasingly making their way into food and the food industry.
Image courtesy: Spyce

Foodbuddy operates over the internet. When the device's user is hungry, s/he can call out via their a voice-activated assistant, after which the machine brings food up to their mouths. The amount of food and any break between every dose of the meal can be controlled by the user.

According to the device's developers, both of whom are computer science engineers at IIT Gandhinagar, the alternatives available in the market for the same product are very expensive and well beyond access to Indian masses. Their innovation was publicised at the second Invent@IITGN event organised by IIT Gandhinagar.

A total of 28 students were selected from nine IITs across the country including IIT Bombay, IIT Dhanbad, IIT Dharwad, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Goa, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, and IIT Palakkad.

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