(Photo courtesy of NextFab)
Accessibility month may be coming to a close here at Generocity, but this year’s Philly Tech Week 2018 presented by Comcast is making it a focus.
The assembly of all things tech officially kicked off this past Friday and was followed on Saturday by the all-day Accessibility Hackathon hosted by NextFab in partnership with nursing care facility Inglis House.
NextFab, a membership-based network of makerspaces, assembled a group occupational therapists and technologists adept at thinking quick on their feet to “creatively solve challenges experienced by Inglis residents with physical disabilities.”
The event was open to NextFab members and non-members alike. Inglis residents were encouraged to participate.
“It was incredible,” said NextFab’s director of membership services, Marcella Barker, the next day. “There were more than 70 people together there to work on problem solving for other people and laugh and high five and collaborate. It’s going to sustain my hope for months to come.”
Stopping by @NextFab_PHL #Accessibility #Hackathon for #PTW18! The room is packed and there are so many people here to solve challenges posed by @inglis (https://t.co/brAlGBUbQr) pic.twitter.com/JoSxIM94Qc
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— Ellen Hwang (@ellen_hwang_phl) April 28, 2018
The makerspace decided working with Inglis made sense after collaborating with Canadian-based org Makers Making Change to produce low-cost LipSyncs, which allow a person without the use of their hands to operate a touchscreen.
The LipSync event, part of NextFab’s own Projects with Purpose initiative started in 2015, produced 17 devices, four of which were donated to Inglis via an employee who had attended.
“He had a very small lab with a single 3D printer, so we were talking about all the ways that NextFab could help him in his role,” said Barker. “Talking about the challenges and the problems that his residents and clients face, we started kicking around the idea of a hackathon.”
First up for me for on the #PTW18 agenda is an Accessibility Hackathon co-hosted by @NextFab_PHL and @INGLISdotorg watching a group 3D print a headrest. @kentomlinson, one of these days you’re going to have to teach me how to use one of these! pic.twitter.com/VHOWo6Lfoo
— Abe Kwon (@abekwon) April 28, 2018
The resulting hackathon featured 10 groups that each worked on one of the following concepts throughout the day. As described by Barker, the projects were:
- An embedded pressure sensor system within a wheelchair cushion that monitors and alerts user/caregiver if a surface (e.g. wheelchair cushion) is outside of therapeutic range for pressure relief
- A wheelchair modification which allows for personal care (e.g. brief changes) to occur in chair without having to transfer resident in and out of wheelchair
- A wheelchair detection system that alerts caregivers of proximity to a hazard or travel outside a determined range of location
- A robotic sandwich feeding device, thereby allowing residents without use of their arms to independently eat and enjoy a wider range of foods outside the liquid or semi-liquid scope
- A full lap tray that can be easily folded out of the way by wheelchair user that improves independence and participation in activities of daily living
- An aesthetically pleasing and fun illumination system for a wheelchair that improves the safety and visibility of WC users after dark in the community, and can communicate an emergency or need for help
- A device that uses ultrasonic sensors to detect proximity to objects and people and helps prevent wheelchair-driving accidents
- A device that helps stabilize head and neck position in a wheelchair to help decrease pain and skin irritation
- A safe, secure catheter tubing clip system that helps prevent snagging of tubing on wheelchair and obstacles
- A wearable device that helps alert residents with cognitive or vision deficits to wheelchair battery health
Of the 10 concepts proposed, nine demonstrated proof of concept — “which means that they met some of the design criteria and they seem to be a viable solution,” said Barker. No word yet on whether any of these projects will make it beyond the concept phase.-30-
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