Two Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering students won the mobility and transportation category at the Abilities Hackathon, an event held for the second year at the Digital Harbor Foundation’s Baltimore location.
Team Rain Rain Go Away, which included BME graduate student Sapna Kumar, Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design graduate student David Gullotti, and ATI physical therapist Dianne Weeks, DPT, MSE, designed an umbrella to keep people who use wheelchairs dry in the rain. Their retractable umbrella is mounted on a wheelchair arm and is controlled by a switch.
“We came to know about the hackathon when Mr. Ed Slattery, president of FANN, Inc. reached out to BME,” says Kumar. “He had this problem in mind that wheelchair users need to be able to independently use umbrellas. And though this seems like a simple problem, there are currently no wheelchair accessories that can do this.”
The team got to work designing a retractable option. Now with the flip of a switch, their umbrella opens to cover the user, and another switch closes it. The team made sure to limit any water dripping on a user’s head by designing the umbrella to close in an inverted shape.