The Brooklyn Navy Yard was recently home to TOM:NYC, a three-day Makeathon to create affordable, assistive technology addressing needs of people with disabilities.
New York’s first TOM Makeathon was a partnership with Cornell University and featured teams of eight “makers” (engineers, product designers, developers and coders) who joined with “need-knowers” (individuals with a deep understanding of a specific disability or challenge) to create prototypes where there is no market interest due to prohibitive cost or speciality of condition. Following the Makethon, designs were made available for public domain use, accessible to those with similar disabilities around the world.
Tikkun Olam Makers, launched in 2014 by Reut Group, is a network of makers currently organized in 10 countries. At a recent Makeathon, a team of Makers created a robotic arm for a quadriplegic man for $700 – nearly $14,000 cheaper than its market value. At another, members of Israel’s space program designed wheelchairs more ergonomic and affordable than what’s available on the market.
At TOM:NYC, Makers and Need-Knowers teamed up to create devices for 15 challenges, including prototypes for a portable, lightweight ramp that will provide greater mobility in urban environments, adaptable tech for weight machines at the gym, and redesigning a manual wheelchair so it can be be propelled without the use of one’s arms.