Assignment 7: 3/3/21

Thinking about the term symbiote, we were particularly interested in not only co-existing but in assisting the wearer of the symbiote. As shown in the videos below, the Arm-Up inflates and deflates when the wearer moves their arm.

As the wearer’s arm lifts, the symbiote inflates, which helps the wearer lift their arm. At the same time, as the wearer lifts their arm, the symbiote gets more space to expand. The actuation is then reversed when the person lowers their arm.

The pneumatic pouch was placed underneath the arm connected to the side of the vest. We decided to use the same meshing fabric as utilized on the vest in order for it to blend in with the overall design. We did not want it to stand out but rather blend in with the wearer’s clothing.

Using the Circuit Playground & Crickit and electric pneumatic pump, we programed a touch sensor to easily turn on and off the pump. When Jasmine touched the sensor, Michelle’s arm was then pushed upwards by the inflating Arm-Up. After switching the pump to take in air, the Arm-Up was then powered to deflate and bring Michelle’s arm down.

Close Up of the Arm-Up Symbiote
Far View of the Arm-Up Symbiote

The design for the symbiote was inspired by a previous classmate’s pneumatic device design. By heal-sealing together three rectangles together with a hollow center hole, the device is capable of expanding and contracting by large amounts when pumped with air.

Before coming up with our final design, we experimented with a few other designs. At first, we imagined our symbiote to ‘grow’ from the inside, similar to the motion of the soft vine robots. Using an elastic, as the air is pumped into the plastic, it would ideally inflate from the inside. Once tested, the mechanics did not perform as expected and we decided to pivot.

From there, we created a miniature version of the final pneumatic device design just to see if it was feasible. In the end, we made three different expanding and contracting devices. In future iterations, we may consider adding more Arm-Up devices along the length of the vest and even on both sides of the wearer’s body.