A unique senior project group consisting of kinesiology and engineering students spent the entire school year developing Adaptive Darts, a dart-throwing device designed to allow people with disabilities the opportunity to competitively play a game against an able-bodied opponent.
The project group began designing the device at the beginning of fall quarter and geared all development and designs toward their client, Friday Club.
Friday Club is a program run by kinesiology students and the San Luis Obispo Special Olympics and is designed to host activities for disabled individuals every week during the academic school year.
The device was tested with some members of Friday Club and after it is judged and showcased at Cal Poly’s College of Engineering Senior Design Expo today, it will be used by disabled individuals at Friday Club activities.
Mechanical engineering senior Nick Quanstrom said his favorite part of the year-long senior project was making something that is actually going to be used and that will make people happy.
“It’s rewarding to make something that makes someone’s life easier or more enjoyable,” Quanstrom said.
If space at the Design Expo permits, the group will demonstrate how the product works and how it can benefit individuals with disabilities.
“It’s a pneumatic, so air powered, device that the user is able to pressurize and then release the energy to throw the dart,” mechanical engineering senior Sergio Plascencia said.
Plascencia said through a carefully designed pump system, the user can pressurize the tank and have control of the aiming when they release the dart with the push of a button.
“We had certain specifications that we set out to meet as we were designing it,” Plascencia said. “For example, we wanted it to be easy to use, but at the same time require enough force to get some kind of exercise. It’s a balance between making it easy but also challenging and fun.”
Plascencia said the individual that the dart system was designed for was usually in a wheelchair, with limited amounts of mobility and possible difficulties with fine motor skills.
He said it was also designed to meet the needs of a variety of disabled individuals, however.
“We had one individual who had a lot of strength, but had trouble with fine motor skills like releasing the dart at the right moment,” Plascencia said. “There’s a lot of levels of disabilities, some are not cognitive, they just have, for example, trouble throwing the dart or engaging in sports.”
Plascencia said the device is meant to be as independent as possible, meaning it can be operated on its own, but individuals who need more help can also use the device.
Other specifications involved creating a design that achieved a certain speed so the dart successfully reached the board.
Kinesiology senior Gerilynn Gobuyan is pursuing a career in occupational therapy, where she will work with individuals with disabilities or in need of rehabilitation.
“It was a really fun experience,” Gobuyan said. “I’ve never been involved in a project like that in terms of building a device that had to do with adapting to an actual physical sport or game. To see the expression in the clients’ faces, and to see how excited they were when it happened, that was definitely worthwhile.”
Gobuyan said the project was one of many kinesiology/engineering collaborations funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.