Category: Gross Motor Skills

Walking Motivator

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---- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: Design a motivational walking device for an child with cerebral palsy and autism. The goal was to build a device that would use music to stimulate the consumer to walk on his own. The Walking Motivator is a motion-activated music player that includes a pedometer to detect motion, a microprocessor, an MP3 music player, and headphones. Other than the headphones, the entire device fits inside a small pouch that straps onto the consumer’s hip. As long as the consumer walks, the music plays; when he stops, he receives a message to motivate him to keep walking. A commercial pedometer (Digiwalker SW 701, Yamax Corp, Tokyo) contains a switch, which closes and opens each time the consumer takes a step. The pedometer was modified to disable all features other than this switch. Wires from the switch are connected to a PIC microprocessor (16F876, Microchip Corp, Chandler, AZ) in such a way that each step produces a low pulse (5V to zero). Software in the processor continuously monitors this signal, interpreting each low pulse as a step. When the software first detects a step, it triggers an MP3 player (Rouge Robotics, Toronto) to start playing music as a reward. When the PIC detects walking motion, the music is played continually until no walking motion is detected for six seconds. After six seconds, the music is stopped and a motivational cue is played, which explains that music will start again if the user starts to walk again. The PIC program contains a filter to guard against false positive detections of walking. This filter determines the frequency of steps, and if it is too high, triggers a different message that informs the user that the device will not play music unless normal walking is resumed. Additionally, if the PIC detects no walking motion for six seconds, it powers itself down to a sleep mode to conserve battery power. Music was collected from the consumer’s teacher and uploaded to a Flash memory card, which plugs into the MP3 player. Ninety-one songs are stored on the card. The pedometer, PIC, and MP3 player are packaged in a 3-1/4 inch wide by 4-1/2 inch deep by 1-1/2 inch high ABS plastic project box, which contains an easily accessible 9 volt battery holder. A voltage regulator drops the voltage to 5 volts for the microprocessor. Headphone wires exit the box and connect to standard audio headphones. The device is worn on the hip of the consumer to allow for maximum efficiency of walking detection. The project box must be oriented properly for the pedometer to work reliably. This is ensured by attaching the device inside a camera case, which has been connected to a luggage strap, and strapping this ensemble around the waist of the consumer. Cost of parts for the device was approximately $390. TITLE: Walking Motivator. JOURNAL: NSF 2006 Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons with Disabilities. REF: Chapter 7: pp. 80-81. PAGES: 3 with cover. 2006.


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