Freshman Design Project

Handicapped-Assisting Door Opener

This project was initially created as my Freshman Design Project along with Adam Baechler and Casey O’Neil. For that class we were required to create a blog that was updated weekly. It’s quite rough and was only meant for our professor, so I’ve taken the information we put on there and consolidated it on this page.

After we completed our freshman year at Drexel we were invited to participate in an Entrepreneurship class that would allow us to continue working on our prototype with funding from Drexel’s Close School of Entrepreneurship. Adam and I enrolled in this class and through it class we were introduced to the Inglis House, who took an interest in our project as a way of helping their residents more easily get into and out of their rooms.

What is it?

Our project started out as a way to open my dorm room door without using a key. I imagined a motor that would pull down the door handle from the inside, when I triggered it with an RFID card from the outside.

Image 1 Image 2

Our design idea was to have a motor that was attached to the door handle by a cord. The motor would retract the cord and pull the door handle down, unlatching it and allowing it to be pushed open. The motor and whatever trigger hardware that would be required would be fixed to the door in an easily removable way.

The initial schematic looked like this:


What can this be used for?

A device like this has many applications, besides just lazy college students who don’t want to bother using keys on their dorm room doors. Any situation where a person’s hands might be full or they might be preoccupied with other aspects of their job, such as someone moving boxes between rooms or a healthcare worker helping a patient, could be improved by using a device such as this.

We discovered a very specialized use at the Inglis House in Philadelphia. A lot of residents their residents have trouble opening their doors due to limited mobility or motor control. The residents had a ribbon attached to the door handle so they could pull the door open by themselves, but if the door was pushed all the way closed they would be unable to unlatch the door before pulling it open with the ribbon.

Why is this device different from other, more traditional solutions?

There are many ways around the problems that our device solves, but most of them are twice or three times as the cost our device, and all of them require extensive modification to the doors and installation by a specialist. It wouldn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars for the Inglis House to retrofit the doors of the individuals that needed this solution, when their needs vary so individually and it’s impossible to anticipate which doors may need this modification at any time. Our solution is easily movable as the resident’s needs change and much more cost effective.

What is happening with this project right now?

Our project is currently on hold while some group-members are on co-op and others are in class, but we plan to revisit this in the future. Our final prototype looked like this:


Have any questions about this project? Shoot me an email.