Student designs conquer aging, disabilities

May 29, 2008 4:19:27 PM PDT
The next big idea for conquering aging & disabilities could be inside 3 former shipping containers parked on an empty lot across from the Kimmel Center.

Design students at the University of the Arts are showing off 21 inventions to make everyday life a little easier for the elderly, and those with disabilities.

Nick Gerding created "Eye-Fi" to enable shoppers with poor vision to read the fine print on food labels. It is a hand-held magnifier large enough to capture most of a jar or can label.

Gerding told Action News there's a growing need for help in the supermarket aisles. "A lot of people are concerned with food allergies, and problems like that - and even just watching calories."

The cost of Eye-Fi would be paid through "aid-vertising" - ads on the handle.

Beck Linneman's device, called "Indi Knit," holds a knitting needle for a hand that's no longer working.

Her inspiration came after a friend's aunt lost the use of one arm due to a stroke.

Linnemann says, "I've been knitting since I was 8, and I just can't imagine losing use of my hands, and not being able to do what I any more."

"Stand," a device to help people get up & down from chairs and benches, was inspired by conversations he had in Rittenhouse Square with elderly visitors.

"People were saying, 'I have a lot of trouble getting up,' " says designer Ian Leibovicin. "One of the huge problems with elderly standing up from a seated position is they can fall, because they have to use an outside source to help themselves get up."

Berk Asal was proud to show off his creation, Triblean, a tricycle that allows a more balanced ride. He circled it in the lot at high speed, handling sharp turns easily. he says it took more than a year to get from first concept to a usable cycle, and that he is still working on it, to make it more attractive.

All of the students are seniors or graduate students in the university's industrial design program.

Linneman, who is project manager for the exhibit, says the goal was to make people more aware of industrial design. She says it is "one of those areas not many people know about. You kind of know people make things, but you're not sure who really does it."

The exhibit is open to the public on Friday, from noon to 3 p.m., and on Saturday from noon to 9 p.m., in the vacant lot across from the Kimmel Center, just north of Chambers-Wylie Church, at 315 S. Broad Street.