Past Projects

Handcycle Brakes (Bonnie)

The goal of our project is to enable Bonnie to safely brake her handcycle. Currently, she has access to an unreliable backpedaling method to slow down while cycling, but this method has a chance of disengaging, disabling Bonnie’s only method for braking. Due to Bonnie’s quadriplegia, she does not have access to traditional brakes, like the parking brake currently installed on the handcycle. We hope to modify the current braking system to actuate using input from her elbow or head to will allow Bonnie to safely and reliably brake.

Umbrellectric (Vyoma)

This is a project intended to help Vyoma, a student with a mobility disability, keep dry in the rain and better access her school materials. This project’s goal is to design a motorized arm that will hold/store and deploy an umbrella through the use of controls that she can easily access. The desk Vyoma currently has attached to her motorized chair is also being modified by adding a compartment to store her laptop. This will give her the option to keep her laptop out of the way when she’s not using it as well as protect it on rainy days.

SmartAssist (Zack)

The SmartAssist team is developing a power assist system, similar to the Permobil SmartDrive device, that is attachable to a manual wheelchair. Instead of being powered by a remote (such as a motorized wheelchair), the user of the SmartAssist will be able to manually propel themselves and the motor will kick in to match the speed. This allows the user to maintain a faster pace without having to overexert themselves. This will also be particularly useful to maintain momentum on different types of terrain and up inclines. This project involves the application of mechanical parts and concepts such as motors, power delivery, control, and energy storage.

Binocular Holder

“I’m really excited about my project to create some type of device that will enable me to independently hold & operate a pair of binoculars and my hope is that we can create something that is universally designed and would work for other disabled people that have limited use of their arms and hands. I’m starting a bird-watching program at work and this type of assistive technology will help us serve more people. To get a sense of a possible design that can be used as a place to start from I found this online,  I’d also like to have an auto focus capability so having people with mechanical and electric engineering experience might be useful.”

 Alive Bolt

Owen Kent, who has quadriplegia, uses a robot arm (made by Kinova) to carry out daily tasks independently from his caretaker. But his robot arm is unable to open the deadbolt to his studio door because of its round shape and the immense torque needed to rotate the knob. This continuing project is designing a long key holder (lever) with replaceable keys that Owen can wield in order to open his door from the outside.



This project addresses the difficulty of gripping and turning a round doorknob with limited hand grasping strength. With a motor actuating grippers similar to a camera Iris this device turns any round doorknob into a lever. This project was completed as a class design project fall 2015 but is still open to further development.


Automatic Window

For individuals wheelchair-bound who cannot easily get in and out of bed or reach over furniture it can be extremely difficult or impossible to open or close a window. This can be compounded by an inability to control a heating thermostat. For this reason we seek to design a simple and affordable window opener through the activation of a switch or Bluetooth phone application.


Backpack Coolpad

For those suffering from hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating) it can be uncomfortable or even embarrassing to wear or take off a backpack. This project aims to control this through a ventilation system and heat wicking device.


A common problem for amputees is not applying enough body weight to the prosthetic leg when walking, preventing the leg to work as well as it should. BioKneek provides haptic feedback through an iOS app whenever the patient is not applying enough force on the prosthetic leg. A prototype won the 3D Printing Designathon in fall 2015.

Cot Hospital Bed

For wheelchair users, camping is often an insurmountable challenge both getting up/down from the ground and sitting up/down from a lying position. This project seeks to modify an existing cot to be stable for transferring on/off and assist users to sit up.


This project is intended as a point-of-sale device/software to encode the info on a receipt as a QR code. This software would help blind people use their phone to get an electronic receipt (at which point they can use text-to-speech or some other software).


JARL (Just Another Robotic Limb) is an initiative to develop a low-cost, wheelchair-mounted robotic arm to assist Jade, a quadriplegic member of the UC Berkeley community, with daily activities such as drinking water, eating, and brushing teeth. Many individuals who have ALS, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries, or other disabilities both rely on wheelchairs and struggle with lifting and grasping. The JARL project aims to address the need for affordable assistive devices by creating a user-controlled lightweight robotic arm that is capable of performing a variety of tasks.

Marina Navigator

Ed Gallagher is a sailor who lost his vision and has created a racing course for other blind sailors. While the system is great on the water, the difficulties come on land. There’s a need for a system to help him and other sailors that will come to the clinic in navigating on land without assistance.


Project Marathon

Current orthotics used to extend leg length are simply semi rigid foam blocks which provide little lateral support or a gate spring. This project seeks to use modern material properties and geometry to provide a stable and active orthotic extension for both athletic and everyday use.

Power Soccer Guard

The power soccer guard is an adjustable protective bumper which attaches to the front of a power wheelchair to protect the player’s feet and provide a strong and stable surface to impact “kick” the ball with.

Tendon Glove

As a result of a spinal cord injury, Marcos, an architecture student at UC Berkeley, has no function in his hands, and relies on exoskeleton-type devices to grab objects. Current devices, the team explained, are bulky and can be unstable.

The tendon glove team developed a rigid glove that is easier to don and more stable than other solutions, and that provides Marcos with grip strength between his thumb and index finger he would otherwise not have. Unlike existing devices which are rigid and cumbersome, the team’s solution forms to the shape of Marcos’ hand for easier usability and more flexibility.


Longtime Berkeley resident Bonnie considers herself to be somewhat of an outdoorsman. From her fondness for trails through California greenery to her work with the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, Bonnie loves to spend time outside.

Currently, Bonnie relies on a grabber arm to pick things from her wheelchair. Most of these grabbers rely heavily on wrist and grip strength, making them impossible for Bonnie to operate with one hand. Current devices also have difficulty picking up objects heavier than one pound, forcing Bonnie to rely on maneuvering a converted dustbin to lift heavy objects. The team’s solution is lightweight, portable, is easy to use with one hand, and doesn’t rely on grip strength to operate.


Individuals with limited leg strength – whether from injury, age-related muscle weakness, or neuromuscular impairment – sometimes find difficulty getting to and from the floor safely. This difficulty leads to an increased risk of injury when attempting to get down to the floor, or an inability to resume normal functions after either an intentional descent or a fall.

The Personelevator team has developed a lift that can safely transport a person from a height of several inches to a height of up to two feet, allowing individuals with limited leg strength to rise up from the ground. The device consists of a seat sitting atop a scissor lift, powered by a small motor and drill battery.

Bike Leg

For people with prosthetic legs, riding a bike can be a challenging, uncomfortable task. The Bike Leg team is developing a prosthetic socket attachment that mimics the geometry and motion of an attached leg to better facilitate cyclists and bikers with one leg.

Kayak Nav

Ahmet is a deep-sea kayaker; because he is blind, Ahmet requires a non-visual navigation device so that he avoids shipping lanes and stays on course.


The M-Mouse team is designing a mouth-controlled input device that will allow people with limited to no hand movement to operate a touchscreen device.

Soccer Leg

An offshoot Bike Leg project, the Soccer Leg group is developing a prosthetic socket attachment that mimics the geometry and motion of an attached leg to better facilitate soccer players with one leg.


This project focuses on creating an open-source robotic finger for the Jaco robotic arm from KINOVA. It will be designed to integrate fully into daily life and to be mounted on a power wheelchair to assist people with limited or no upper limb mobility to achieve what was once impossible.