This year I was lucky enough to attend the RESNA/NCART 2016 Conference. Between workshops, I browsed through the many different types of assistive technology and mobility aids vendors brought to the exhibit hall. This year’s stand-out piece of assistive technology was the Jaco2 Robotic Arm!
WHAT DOES IT DO?
The Jaco2 Robotic Arm enables users to independently interact with their environment. Most people who utilize this device have upper extremity impairments which make things like holding a utensil to eat, lifting a cup to drink, and pressing a doorbell to greet a friend, difficult.
Simply explained, the device has an axis like a shoulder that rotates, an axis like an elbow that can open and close, an axis like a wrist that rotates and bends, and three finger like components that gently grasp, like a hand.
The robotic arms mounts onto surfaces, such as a power chair arm, to allow use in all environments. It is controlled through either the power chair’s controller or a switch interface such as a sip-and-puff switch. Most user’s power the device through their power chair’s battery.
In the video below you will see several Jaco2 users performing everyday tasks like opening a drawer, shaving their face, picking up a stuffed animal for a child, feeding a dog a treat, and more.
I had the opportunity to try the device myself and thought it was very easy to learn and operate. It took me less than two minutes of explanation before I was picking up a drinking glass without any prompting. There are different settings user’s need to be able to switch back and forth from to operate different components of the the hand. Given more time, I feel like remembering the different settings is something users with fairly good cognition and memory could master within about two weeks of consistent operation.
My initial worry was the device would grasp items too tightly, but it is programmed to know exactly how much pressure needs to be applied to accomplish the task at hand. In other words, it has a very gentle touch!
Overall, there isn’t anything I would change about this device! I hope it is only the beginning of robotic assistive technology solutions!