Wax On, Wax Off

Wax On, Wax Off (Duke University)

Yasha Saxena, Matt Udelhofen, Yash Bhatnagar


Wax On, Wax Off






DECI is a vocational rehabilitation program that provides job training and placement for adults with disabilities

Carl and Kelly work within this program, which requires precise measuring and packaging of shaved wax for candle-making kits. While they possess the motor skills required for the job, our clients have mild to moderate cognitive limitations that make reading and interpreting numbers on a scale difficult.

As a result, they are unable to gauge exactly how much wax must be added or removed to reach a specific target weight. Instead, our clients fill bags with an approximate amount of wax, then transfer the bags to a staff member who adjusts to precise target weights: 1.00 or 10.00 lbs.

The clients are attentive, and understand and follow simple verbal and visual clues. Through continued verbal feedback (e.g. “add/remove more”, “add/remove a little,” “add/remove a pinch”) one of the clients is able to reach the target weight exactly. However, the fast-paced environment of the vocational program makes the current process most efficient with a staff member performing the final adjustments, thus limiting the independence of our clients.

Currently, simple read-aloud scales exist, but cannot quantify how much wax needs to be added or removed to reach the target weight. Additionally, automated dispensing systems are commonplace in industrial settings, but have tremendous cost, focus on powders and grains, and are counterintuitive to the goal of the vocational program: providing job training and placement for adults with disabilities.

The goal of this project is to create a device that will interpret the quantity of wax required to reach the precise target weight and aid our clients in hitting that amount without staff intervention.

The device must operate at precision of 0.02 lbs and be versatile for target weights of 10.00 and 1.00 lbs of wax. In addition, the device must be resistant to wax buildup and easy to clean. The device must account for variability in wax density. It must also remain powered throughout the entire work day.

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