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The magical Bridge

For our project in Stanford's ENGR 110: Perspectives in Assistive Technology, my team elected to work with the Magical Bridge Foundation to prototype new equipment for Palo Alto's accessible playground. After consulting with the team behind the Magical Bridge Playground and observing users in action, we focused on two issues. The first was that, while much of the playground was accessible to people using wheelchairs, the slides and swings required that they rely on someone else to help them transfer. The second was that many of the walkways in the playground were underutilized, while other, more engaging, areas became very crowded. Indeed, the park's bridges, which we thought should be a highlight of a playground with the name "Magical Bridge," were relatively plain, and walking canes sometimes got stuck in their slats.

The solution we prototyped was a model bridge with a walkway composed of panels in the park's color scheme. When a user applied pressure to one of the colored panels, a corresponding light would turn on under the railing. At full-scale, users could walk or roll over the bridge to light it; kids in wheelchairs could enjoy the interactive experience independently. A wide walkway would make room for multiple wheelchair users at once, while the lack of gaps between panels would prevent prevented a mobility aid from getting snagged.

 

When we brought our model to the playground, kids kept running back to interact with it and exclaimed about how they wanted a life-sized version. We also considered potential redesigns, for instance, allowing kids to program which panel controlled which light, or adding sound for visually impaired users.

Ultimately, The Magical Bridge Foundation purchased our prototype for science education and potential full-scale development and our final presentation earned the highest score in the class, as scored by peers and community members. Our complete report can be found here.

Skills:

  • Arduino ​

  • Circuits

  • User Research and Testing

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