Obi: Feeding Yourself is a Robotic Arm Away

By Jolene Montgomery


Have you ever had your spoon bow to you in respect before you eat?  The new Obi robotic feeding device will, with pleasure.

Obi Restores Independence and Dignity to the Dinner Table

Obi is short for “Obeisance,” meaning “a movement of the body expressing deep respect or deferential courtesy, as before a superior; a bow, curtsy, or other similar gesture, “according to

Obi Feeding Device

Jon Dekar, inventor, and designer of Obi, initially developed the idea while working in nursing homes as a teenager. Then his own grandfather developed a degenerative disease that gradually made independent self-feeding impossible. 

“Every day, millions of people must be fed by caregivers, and they find the experience to be conspicuous and frustrating.  Feeding oneself is a basic human need, and there was no good solution available,”  Dekar says. “I became inspired to change that.”

Together with his father, Tom Dekar, Jon formed  DESIN, (pronounced “design”) a consumer robotics company also employing Scott Stone, Vice President of Customer Experience and Hariharan Ananthanarayanan, Vice President of Technology. Obi is their debut product, and can be experienced at Houston’s Abilities Expo, August 5-7, 2016 in booth 422.

Dekar posed the question: Does a robot have to be stiff and…well, robotic? Can’t it be light hearted and fluid? When you see it you may find that the Obi will remind you of Pixar’s bouncing lamp—Obi indeed has that touch of wit and grace.

It should—Obi is designed to give back. It returns a certain independence, dignity and normalcy to the joy of eating. Whatever movement your body may have, there are accessibility switch options designed for you to operate Obi.  If you have seen people who have had the simple happiness of feeding themselves taken away, you will love watching as Obi returns things to their natural order.

Obi Feeding Device

Obi can be carried in its case as effortlessly as you would carry a laptop. If you are eating out it can easily go with you, or it can be brought from room to room. Would you like one meal in the dining room, one at the kitchen table, one in the garden and the next one in bed? Done. Once Obi is switched on, the caregiver only has to guide the robotic arm from the bowl to the mouth a single time. That one touch sets it to your specifications, then your caregiver or loved one can enjoy their meal while you enjoy yours. As Obi-user David Hare says on, “You can’t put a price tag on that.”

For more information about Obi, visit


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