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Saturday, 20 February 2016
32 teams compete to develop affordable assistive devices for people with disabilities - Bangalore
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) led project saw 32 teams from around the world compete to develop affordable assistive devices for people with disabilities in rural areas.
ICRC had earlier called on engineers, designers, the scientific and innovation community, persons with disabilities, humanitarians, manufacturers, investors and entrepreneurs to join forces in the 'Enable Makeathon' to develop affordable solutions for challenges faced by persons with disabilities in rural areas.
The Enable Makeathon was a 60-day program that took place between November 2015 and January 2016. It is composed of an 'Online Track' for teams from all around the world and an 'Onsite Track' with a series of events in Bengaluru, India. Teams worked towards finding innovative solutions to nine challenges that would ultimately result in one or all of the following desired results:
The prototype developed by Team Aseem, stood second, being tested during the Maker Days.
The event wrapped up at the end of last month in Bengaluru, India, when a panel of judges selected three winning prototypes from 17 finalists.
They include a standing/sitting chair for children with cerebral palsy developed by Mobility India, an attachment to enable standard wheelchairs to operate on rugged ground by Aseem, and a low-cost, flexible prosthetic foot designed to handle tough terrain by RightFit Prosthetics Initiative.
Persons with disabilities were involved at every stage of the process, whether as challenge-setters, designers, users and judges.
Challenges focused on everyday activities such as movement in and around the home, self-care and personal hygiene, operating different means of communication and ease of traveling.
The project explored how existing technologies could be adapted and redesigned to match the needs of users possessing limited financial resources and living in rural areas. Two-thirds of the almost 140 entries came from India.
Tarun Sarwal, head of innovation at the ICRC, said: “The Enable Makeathon was a huge success and far exceeded our expectations. It shows the possibilities that exist today for developing quick and innovative solutions for people with disabilities. It’s just a question of making the connections, because the ideas and expertise are already out there.”