TOM:2.0 2018
to Mar 15

TOM:2.0 2018

We are ready to take TOM to the next level and are launching TOM 2.0 with a Makeathon focused on preparing prototype solutions for replication by bringing together experts in manufacturing and product development with 5 teams who have developed successful prototypes.

We will test this new part of our process at Impact Labs in Tel Aviv, learn from it and then release the model to other locations.

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TOM:Vanderbilt 2017
to Jan 21

TOM:Vanderbilt 2017

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Bradley Schwartz

This year, TOM:Vanderbilt will be hosting our first annual TOM Makeathon at the exciting new Vanderbilt Innovation Center, from January 19-21! There are a ton of ways to get involved, which you can find all across this site. Know someone who loves to tinker? Send them our way and apply to be a maker! Have a challenge which you think we could solve? Submit it in the Need Knowers application. We also welcome volunteers for the event itself and direct donations to our GoFundMe page. 

Key Dates!
Call for Talent and Call for Challenge: Closing November 12
Makeathon: January 19-21 at Vanderbilt Innovation Center, 2415 Garland Ave Nashville TN
Closing Ceremony: January 21, more details coming soon!

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TOM:Melbourne 2017
to Dec 3

TOM:Melbourne 2017


Organizer: Kylie Appel

TOM: Melbourne is proudly brought to you by Debbie Dadon AM and Israel Trade Commission in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology and Flying Fox.

During the 72 hour Makeathon team will develop hardware and software product prototypes designed to meet needs that people with disabilities identify are important to them. By bringing together people who understand the needs (‘Need-Knowers’) alongside engineers, designers, developers and makers, and providing a space for innovation and prototyping, we will create solutions, make new connections and share unique experiences.

Join a group of talented individuals for three amazing days to experience how tinkering and technology can impact lives.

Key Dates!
Call for Talent and Call for Challenge:
Applications close September 8
PreTOM: October 25 at 6.00PM in ATC 101-103, Swinburne University of Technology, Swinburne Innovation Precinct Advanced Technologies Centre 401-451 Burwood Road, Hawthorn, 3122
Makeathon: December 1-3 at Swinburne University of Technology, Swinburne Innovation Precinct Advanced Technologies Centre 401-451 Burwood Road, Hawthorn, 3122
Closing Event: December 3, details coming soon!

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TOM: Queensland 2017
to Nov 26

TOM: Queensland 2017



Organizer: Damian Tracey

Key Dates!
Call for Talent and Call for Challenge
- Open until October 2
PreTOM - October 23rd
Makeathon - November 23-26, Community Lifestyle Support - 26 Ashfield Rd Bundaberg
Closing Ceremony - November 26, Community Lifestyle Support - 26 Ashfield Rd Bundaberg

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TOM:Mexico 2017
to Nov 13

TOM:Mexico 2017

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Organizer: Claudia Dorenbaum

Que es TOM? Es un movimiento Global de comunidades que conecta a  Makers, (diseñadores, ingenieros, desarrolladores) con personas con discapacidad (Conocedores o Need Knowers) y así desarrollar juntos, a través de la tecnología, 
soluciones para la vida cotidiana de cada uno.

PreTOM, 31 de agosto de 7:45AM-1:00PM
CRIT Estado de México Av Gustavo Baz Prada 219 colonia San Pedro Barrientos

Makeathon, El evento de 72 horas tendrá lugar en el Centro Deportivo Israelita
entre el 11 y el 13 de novembre. Nos reuniremos a las 8:00 a.m. Y terminaremos con una ceremonia de clausura.

Demo Day, 13 de novembre a las 8:00 a.m

PostTOM, para ser programado

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TOM:Uruguay 2017
to Nov 12

TOM:Uruguay 2017


Organizer, Bebo Gold

Key Dates:
Call for Talent & Call for Challenge: Apply Now!

PreTOM: October 9 at " Parque Industrial Tecnológico del Cerro¨ (Haiti 1500, 12800 Montevideo, Uruguay)
Makeathon: November 10-12 at "Parque Industrial Tecnológico del Cerro" (Haiti 1500, 12800 Montevideo, Uruguay).
Demo Day: November 12 at "Parque Industrial Tecnológico del Cerro" (Haiti 1500, 12800 Montevideo, Uruguay)
PostTOM: Date and location TBD

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TOM:Colombia 2017
to Oct 7

TOM:Colombia 2017


TOM es un movimiento global de las comunidades que conecta a Diseñadores, diseñadores, desarrolladores e ingenieros con personas con discapacidades. Los diseños quedan gratis y de dominio público y cualquier persona lo puede adaptar a sus necesidades.

PreTOM: Que se anunciará pronto

Makeathon: Octubre 5-7, 2017

Demo Day: Que se anunciará pronto

PostTOM: Que se anunciará pronto

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TOM:Alberta 2017
to Aug 27

TOM:Alberta 2017


Kathryn Simone

Three-day makeathon creates specialized solutions for people with disabilities

Article by: Brian Cechmanek

The TOM:Calgary, run by local non-profit Kadima Dynamics, proudly celebrated Calgary’s spirit of innovation at its third annual makeathon event. Local engineers and designers (‘Makers’) collaborated with people living with disability (‘Need-Knowers’) to create real-life solutions for their everyday challenges.

From August 24-27, 13 teams of 4-6 individuals, hailing from communities across Alberta, came together for a continuous 72 hours of designing, testing, and building. They had access to fabrication equipment, materials, mentors, and not-quite-enough coffee. With the help of community sponsors, TOM was able to provide just enough of a budget for each team to create inclusive, affordable, and yet still innovative prototypes.

The challenges being tackled were suggested by Need-Knowers prior to the event, based on real problems they face that are often unaddressed by industry. These challenges are invisible to the public, either because they are highly specialized to the Need-Knower, or because the solutions that do exist are inaccessibly expensive. To address these issues, TOM gathers Makers from university students and industry professionals, including experts, mentors, and machinists.

The solutions developed by TOM’s Makers this year include a modified tricycle for a double lower-leg amputee, a remote blood glucose monitor for a young boy with diabetes, and a hands-free neck brace. TOM takes on challenges requiring 3D printing, machining, welding, programming, and sometimes even big data analysis. One such project (an ongoing initiative) is using Cybera’s Rapid Access Cloud to analyze terabytes of EEG (electroencephalography) data to better predict, and eventually avoid, severe migraine attacks.

TOM:Calgary 2017 proudly partnered with the Neil Squire Society and Makers Making Change to host a mini-buildathon, where high school students and undergraduates learned to solder together a Lipsync™ module. This mouth-operated joystick system is designed to assist users with limited use of their arms to operate a smartphone. All 20 devices that were created in just one weekend will be donated to users here in Calgary.


‘Tikkun Olam’ is a Hebrew concept that means “repairing the world”, which stresses our responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it. Kadima, through TOM makeathons and other initiatives, wants to make Calgary the North American hub of inclusive design and technology. All prototypes developed at TOM makeathons have their designs uploaded to an open-source global repository, so that ideas can be freely proliferated and improved upon.

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TOM:Kazakhstan 2017
to Jun 18

TOM:Kazakhstan 2017


Organizers: Saniya Arapova

Valentina was only 25 years old when she suffered a stroke and lost her ability to walk independently. Valentina had a dream, to walk again. The team of students at TOM:Kazakhstan designed a full-body rehabilitative exoskeleton using orthotics available on the market. On the second day of the Makeathon, Valentina walked unassisted for the first time in 15 years. She promises to continue to use the exoskeleton and hopes with time, she will be able to regain her independence.

Alina and Irina both have CP. Living on their own for the first time is exciting, but they find some household activities somewhat challenging. The team designed a mop which is anchored with a cane so they have extra support to clean without falling or slipping. 

Azat is studying applied mathematics and hopes to one day become a computer programmer. Born with CP, Azat finds it difficult to type (or code) comfortably on the computer. The team designed a rolling shelf to rest his hands so he can use the keyboard easier. The team also prototyped a voice controlled “Robot Manipulator” that will be able to help Azat do things around the house. 

Bilayof came to TOM:Kazakhstan wearing an antiquated prosthetic shoe which caused tremendous pain and discomfort to his residual limb. The team from the Engineering and Economic University in Southern Kazakhstan looked at solutions available in the United States and designed a socket that holds the base of his foot and redesigned the shoe with more flexible-lightweight material. After trying on the new shoes, Bilayof walked for the first time pain-free and without a cane.

At 68 years old, Galina came to TOM:Kazakhstan to find a way to make her heavy below-knee prosthesis more comfortable in the summer. In addition to the weight, Galina was fitted with a full leg sock and waist belt which was very warm with the rising temperatures. The team used a combination of aluminum and fiberglass to build a new prosthesis, the team then creatively created a more flexible foot by repurposing a bike seat, and completed the design by attaching an orthotic knee brace to hold the prosthesis more comfortably. The team hopes to continue development of the solution to achieve a better fit for Galina.

At the closing gala, Igor wow’ed audiences with an graceful and passionate wheelchair Tango with his dance partner and friend Irina. Born with CP, Igor finds daily living to be challenging, many of his movements are abrupt and it difficult to do everything he wants to do by himself. The team designed a machine to help Igor eat easier and more independently.

Tatyana uses a wheelchair and needs to rely on her husband to reach things from high shelves. The team designed a wardrobe that rotates with the touch of a button, allowing Tatyana to access everything she needs.

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TOM:Porto 2017
to Jun 3

TOM:Porto 2017

TOM: Porto Challenges:
June 2-3, 2017
10 Challenges
52 Participants


At 40, Carlos uses crutches and finds that they they aren’t really comfortable for daily life. The team took a look the way crutches are designed and created the perfect crutches: foldable (better than what is out there), can lean on the table when not in use, and can help him get up and stand.



Pedro plays golf using a golf wheelchair that enable him to stand and play. But he still lacks the body range and flexibility to comfortably hit the ball. The team created a maneuver plate for Pedro's seat with springs, that allows him to have the extra movement he needs for golfing.



Manuel has CP and uses a keyboard grid for his daily PC use - sometimes, Manuel needs to use a Mac but there aren’t any grids available on the market. The team created a Mac grid by laser cutting plastic and cork. They even added a Dragon design to make it personalized.



Márcio uses a urinary leg bag and was looking for an easy way to empty it. The team created a 3D printed valve opener with handles for him. For future development the team wish to fit the bag properly and to have better handles for pulling and opening the valve.



Tiago is a fitness instructor at a local gym. One of his clients is blind - but the gym is not accessible. The team created a cart with sensors that maps the gym and can lead the client from station to station easily and safely. Tiago’s hope is that this solution can be replicated in other gyms, enabling blind people to train and stay fit everywhere in the world.



Eduardo usually uses a wheelchair since he doesn't have the core body strength needed to walk. In the past, he used a walker but it didn’t fit him properly. The team adjusted a walker for less than 200 euro and are hoping to continue to adapt and drive the cost down, making the adjustments more affordable.



Isabel uses an electric wheelchair with head joystick and she would like to also operate her computer using the same joystick. The team “hacked” a joystick using an arduino to operate her computer and her smartphone. Now she can use the same joystick to operate her chair, computer and phone.



Carlos is in his late 20s and uses an electric wheelchair. He would like to be able stand to improve his blood circulation. The team created an exoskeleton for him, using a metal structure, arduino, rechargeable batteries and fence engines.




Manuela loves going to concerts - but when she uses her manual wheelchair, she cannot see over the big crowd. The team created a concept solution, a seat that can be raised using a manual mechanism.  



Filipe is a physiotherapist, working in the ALS association in Porto. He came to TOM hoping to solve drop-foot for his patients when they walk. The team created a moveable splint for him using a plastic cast and arduino.

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TOM:UCI 2017
to Apr 30

TOM:UCI 2017

TOM: UCI, Challenges and Solutions

Challenge: Retractable Umbrella for Wheelchairs

Unfortunately, although there have been a lot of technological advancements in our time, there seems to be no solution or devices specifically for those in wheelchairs to complete simple obstacles. Bhumit Shah is 35 year-old need-knower born with cerebral palsy, which is a lifelong neurological disorder that impairs mobility so in his unique case, he must use a wheelchair. Since he must operate a wheelchair with one arm, that only leaves another free to carry objects. The challenge was to create a universal umbrella device that will be able to accompany and accommodate wheelchair users.  This umbrella device should be easily retractable and deflatable, therefore Bhumit can motor his wheelchair without have to hold an umbrella as well.

Solution: Team “Chairway to Heaven” created an umbrella extension for Bhumit’s wheelchair that was able to extend to its full length or close to a collapsable unit. Utilizing a magnetic attachment on his wheelchair, the spherical umbrella hood could stay secured and cover Bhumit entirely while it rains. In addition to this lightweight and ergonomical invention, it could be removed at any time for the sunny days in California and reattached with ease.


Challenge: Manual Zipper

In 2007, our need-knower Kelly Lai suffered from a stroke after an aneurysm surgery. The stroke left her hemiparesis which means she lost all sensation and feeling on her left side. As a 51 year-old mother of two, Kelly has now been put into an unexpected situation that is more difficult than imagined. Not only did her two children have to look after her but her whole life became one challenge after another. For the TOM engineers, the challenge was to create a device that would help Kelly zip her jackets using only her right arm. Likewise, unable to easily maneuver, Kelly has difficulty picking herself up when she falls once a month. The second device that our engineers are hoping to create would help pick herself up without any assistance.

Solution: The team created 2 solutions for our need-knower Kelly Lai to help her with daily activities. First, they created a short, tri-pod device that could aid Kelly in picking herself up when she falls. Created with the user in mind, this unique device had a rubber grip customized for Kelly’s palm and engineered to a specific angle that provided support for her right arm. The team also designed a modified, double-sided clip that would attach onto her jackets and aid Kelly in zipping up her coats using just one arm. Although this clip may appear simple, it worked remarkably when tested by Kelly and will save her a lot of time in the future.


Challenge: Laundry and Oven Helper

Our need-knower, Elizabeth Campbell is 24 years old, and was born with Achondroplasia which is the most common form of skeletal dwarfism. In America, there are 1 in 40,000 cases of dwarfism a year. She is 3’10” and has arms and legs disproportionately shorter than her torso and body which is makes it difficult for her to access objects anything beyond her arm expansion. The challenge for our engineers is to create a device that aids Elizabeth when she is loading, and unloading the laundry and oven as they are out of her reach. When utilizing the top-loading washing machine, she cannot grab the items at the bottom of the barrel. In addition, Elizabeth has trouble reaching into the hot oven and pulling out heavy dishes, therefore she is forced to balance herself from the side of the oven at awkward angles. While trying to avoid falling, burning herself and causing any damages to her surroundings, cooking has proven to be a difficult task for Elizabeth.

Solution: To help our friend Elizabeth, the team engineered two devices to fit her needs. The team first designed an extended clamper that hooks onto fishnet-like bags that would hold her clothing in the washing machine. The process would be quite simple: she would place her clothing in these fishnet type bags, place them in the washing machine and when they are complete, scoop out the bags using the clamp that hooks onto the strings of the bag easily. Secondly, the team designed a prototype that would aid Elizabeth when utilizing a hot oven. They created a rollable table that would sit in front of her oven and she could slide her hot objects onto the table, allow it to cool, and avoid burning herself entirely. This device could also be stored away easily due to the rollable wheels and collapsible design.


Challenge: Kinnari, is a 40 year old woman who suffers from an inability to apply her compression socks. Many patients like Kinnari, have fused ankles, sensitive wounds, pain thus unable to fully extend the foot to use a device called a “donning aid”. A donning aid has proven to be inefficient for overweight patients as they are unable to reach their feet and pull the sock up to their knee. The challenge for our team is to create an easier method for users to easily apply this sock on a daily basis. The intended design is to create a more flexible device that is able to expand and elongate when necessary and with ease.

Solution: Team “We Sock” improved an existing, common device called the donning aid-- that had 3 main limitations that prevented users with a high BMI from using it. These limitations of the traditional design included that heavier users cannot bend over complete to grab fixated handles, therefore the team created an expandable and adjustable handle so the user will not have to bend over. Secondly, the original donning aid had a fixed, metal frame, therefore it cannot expand the opening of the sock efficiently. The team wanted to maximize the diameter of the compression sock at every point possible so that it can suit every leg size. The new device is able to exert more force on the sock, therefore it can open the diameter larger and mold itself to the user. The third limitation is that users with a fused ankle have limited ankle flexibility therefore making it difficult for them to point their toes and put it in the sock; the final product has 2 flexible, donning pillars that are able to yield to any width for the sock and adjust to the user accordingly.


Challenge: The unique challenge for our final team was to create a medical device that will allow people with a knee disability to kneel without applying pressure to the patella, rather diverting that weight to the shins. Our need-knower who is also our maker, Yori Neumark wanted to engineer a product that will fit his needs. Yori is a 64 year old, Informational Technology professional that is required to spend a majority of his time bending down onto his knee to fix equipment  on the floor. He also participates in many activities such as paddle boarding that made it difficult to pick himself up without aid or further damaging his kneecaps. This versatile device will be a solution that can be applicable to any profession or occupation who spends excessive time utilizing their knees.

Solution: The team, “Knee-vater”, created a knee attachment for those with chronic knee sensitivity. With cushioned padding for the shins and an angled surface for maximum productivity, this device can be strapped on utilizing back buckles and provide support for those who kneel often. This product is engineered to reduce pressure on the knees and place more emphasis on the shins which are stronger. Furthermore, the lightweight padding and wooden bottom allows people to mobilize with ease while working.

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TOM:Northwestern University 2017
to Apr 30

TOM:Northwestern University 2017

TOM:Northwestern University was organized by Gal Ben Dor and Guy Zeltser, both students at Kellogg School of Management in partnership with Motorola Mobility Foundation, Israel Education Center, Makerbot, Kellogg IDEA, Inventables, The Consulate General of Israel, Uber and Bag Tags.

TOM:Northwestern is part of TOM:Tikkun Olam Makers (, founded by the Reut Group in Israel as a global movement of locally organized communities bringing together Makers, designers, developers and engineers and people with disabilities to develop solutions for everyday challenges.

This new and locally organized community was launched by TOM as part of an initiative sponsored by the Jim Joseph Foundation to mobilize communities on college campus across the United States. Other TOM Communities are active across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Israel, Vietnam, Bulgaria and Australia - with communities launching in the next few months in Kazakhstan, Spain, and Portugal. 

All the solutions developed by the TOM Community are available in the public domain, free for other users to take the designs and adapt them for their needs - by helping one user here at Northwestern, you can help many users around the world.

Team Zayne

Zayne is a huge Cubs fan and has been playing in his local baseball league for a while, he has a powerful arm and great aim, but when it comes to catching a ball, this is where Zayne ran into some challenges. 6 year old Zayne is one of only 33 people in the world with Ulnar agenesis with only 2 fingers on his left hand and three fingers on his right. He and his mom traveled from Mobile, Alabama for TOM:Northwestern because Zayne wanted to be able to play baseball like his friends. Zayne was the all-star member of Team Zayne, trying out designs and showing off his catching skills throughout the 48 hour Makeathon. After a few design iterations, the team realized that he can fit his right hand into the thumb of a left handed glove - and the team is adapting the glove to be more comfortable for him and widening the “net” so he has more space to catch the ball! 

Zayne is very active 6 year old with Ulnar agenesis, he was born with two fingers and a shorter thumb on his right hand. The team designed 3D printed prosthetic thumb to improve and extend his grip. 

** For all our e-NABLE community members, the team did try e-NABLE designs but they did not work for Zayne’s needs because he has fusion in both elbows and is missing muscle in his palm. I would love if Jon Schull can take a look at photos and perhaps he has other ideas.

*** The team is continuing design to add an extra digit (finger), they tried a solution to put the 3D printed finger into a glove with the thought that if he bends one finger, they all bend. The prototype wasn’t completely successful by the end of the Makeathon and the team plans to continue working with Zayne to get the design working. 

Teams Hans

Hans, is 19 months old and has Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. While most kids his age are exploring the world, he is confined to the arms of one of his parents. Even though he can’t crawl, he loves moving around and he let’s his parents know where he wants to go and what he wants to see! The team explored many crawling and walking design ideas - but after discussing with both Han’s parents and physical therapist, they realized that mobility was the key and they needed to make a motorized chair for him. The chair has interchangeable parts, velcroed down, depending on Han’s abilities and his size - with options for him to sit in a tumble form chair or on his parent’s lap, as well as button and joystick controls depending on his ability. Of course safety always comes first, so the chair is designed with both bumpers and sensors that stop the chair from running into walls.

Team Chris

What if you were in the middle of phone call, dropped your phone and had to wait until the end of the day for someone to come over to pick the phone back up? Chris suffered  a C6 spinal cord injury when he was 16 years old and has very limited motion below his arms. So when he drops his TV remote, home phone, cell phone or keys - he either spends up to 20 minutes with a DIY hanger hook trying to pick up the item or waits until a caregiver arrives at the end of the day. The team designed a grabber that is initiated by wrist extension (flicking the wrist). In addition to grabbing, the grabber is outfitted with magnets and a hook for added functionality and to grab other items that fall. 

Team Bob

Bob Ness was the video producer at TOM:Northwestern and has been working in video production for the past 20+ years. Bob is quadriplegic and hires a cameraman to film while he directs. While it has become easier to work in the industry as everything has become digital, the only thing he hasn’t been able to do is use the physical camera. The team used existing products and components and adapted a camera tripod mounted to a lamp to counterbalance the weight of the camera - that allows him to position his camera anywhere in space. He can now lift up-down, side-to-side, tilt and change the angle of the camera. They introduced a stabilizer that keeps the camera level with the horizon at all times to deal with uneven terrain. The camera will be controlled by an existing Sony app which has all features to film by remote operation. The highlight for the team was watching Bob film the closing event!

Team Darcy

Darcy has her PhD in Molecular Biology, works at the University of Chicago as a Regulatory Manager, is a runner and world traveler. Diagnosed at the age of 3 with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes the body  to attack itself - she is blind in one eye and vision impaired in the other. When it comes to exploring new places, Darcy finds that she either doesn’t go to a place she isn’t familiar with, plans everything out in advance, or ends up in a very anxious situation on street corner trying to figure out where she is. The team designed two new solutions: They created the “Street Nav” app using her GPS location that lets Darcy know what street, intersection or address she is approaching. The team also created “Street Sight”, a GoPro interface that takes photos to her phone every 2-3 seconds so she can discretely zoom in on street signs, car plates, bus schedules - and anything else she would like to get a better look at. 

Team Victoria

Victoria is in her 30s and is the middle of her Masters Degree at the Art Institute of Chicago. Victoria has relapsing MS and uses a wheelchair. A designer and thoughtful about Making, Victoria presented her challenge around getting in and out of bed. Existing solutions are expensive and require her to anchor a lift into the ceiling of her bedroom; and depending on a caregiver is not a reliable and it has affected her ability to get to school. Victoria underwent emergency surgery days before the Makeathon and was not able to attend in person, instead she joined on skype providing critical feedback to the team. The new lift functions like a hoyer lift which allows her to lift herself up from her bed, maneuver to her side, and transfer herself to her wheelchair. 

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TOM:NYC 2017
to Apr 23

TOM:NYC 2017

Team ‘Take a Seat’

16-year-old Need-Knower, Ross, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a progressive neuromuscular disorder which impacts his ability to walk long distances, climb stairs and to get in and out of cars easily. He has has difficulty standing from a seated position, and leaning on a surface to pull himself up is often not sufficient. This impacts his independence at school when class finishes.

Team ‘Take a Seat’ created two prototypes to assist Ross with rising from a chair: the first solution is a portable iPad docking station which doubles as a discreet lift-off platform to rise from a seated position. The second is a compact floor base which accepts and locks in a cane to provide multi-angle lift-off support to assist him rising from a chair.

Team ‘Bioj4ck’


Most weight machines are designed for able-bodied users. Nij is a 27-year-old need-knower with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy which means his entire right side is significantly weakened. This makes weight lifting machines difficult to use with his full body. He also does not have full extension and cannot adequately form a tight grip. The challenge was to create an adaptive device for weight machines and gym equipment.

Team ‘Bioj4ck’ created a dynamic elbow extension wearable from the bicep to the hand, enhancing muscle activity and improving Nij’s range of motion by providing support for full arm extension. The team also designed a glove which strengthens his wrist and stabilizes his grip when using dumbbells and bars.  

Independent and Modified Pediatric Feeding Solutions

Ursula is a 9-year-old need-knower with Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy and has difficulty feeding herself due to motor planning difficulties and ongoing oral-motor issues: she is unable to open her mouth wide due to inflexibility of the jaw hinge and to move her tongue bilaterally.

The team developed cutlery prototypes with a customizable grip for firmer control at the base and provided Ursula the ability to modify the position of the cutlery ends so that she can choose an optimized angle when feeding herself. The team also created a discreet design for the cutlery which mimics the look of a magic wand.

Fun mobility chair

Electric wheelchairs on the market are heavy and extremely expensive. Six-year-old Ryan, who has has cerebral palsy and limited mobility, needed an adaptable stroller which could be electric, lightweight, and easy for transport.

The team created a “fun mobility chair” which is affordable, lightweight, easily transportable and electrically-operated. The team motorized a stroller by hacking a hoverboard which Ryan controls through a joystick, offering him greater independence and easier access in public settings.

Stair Climbing With a Walker

Seniors like Roberta who use walkers in multi-flight apartment buildings struggle to climb stairs. The challenge was to develop a lightweight modification to a walker which would allow ascension with ease.

The team modified Roberta’s walker by adding a small tri-wheel system to the existing model, allowing her to easily ascend the stairs in her fourth-floor walkup apartment. Additionally, the team created a telescopic door stopper to hold the door open for her. The device is lightweight and compact enough to store in a bag on her walker. Roberta no longer faces a challenge in reaching her apartment.

Adapted Toys

The switch toys on the market today are limited in variety, generally are expensive, and are often not durable. Many are not sufficiently stimulating for special needs children who crave a normalized environment that will allow them to use the same popular toys that other children have. The challenge was to create a wireless interface between a child’s switch and a toy. While there are toy adapters on the market, they come with hanging wires which are dangerous for children and can break easily. The device would also need to be easy for any able-bodied users to insert into the battery pack.

The need-knower from the Blythedale Children’s Hospital staff worked with her team to create a wireless, two-button device which activates a toy’s on-off functions, and can also activate an additional device which triggers the various features of a toy.

Ring Bling

Children with disabilities often have fingers with atypical posturing--a child’s finger joints may appear to bend backward. When fingers are held in better alignment, children have better use of their hands. Ring splints, which are small, plastic orthotics that hold fingers to improve alignment, are commercially available, though stock sizes often do not fit children appropriately or require multiple fittings. Stronger, custom silver splints are also overly expensive. The challenge was to develop a platform to design and produce affordable ring splints in custom sizes, colors and shapes.

Team Ring Bling worked with their need-knowers--a team of specialists from Blythedale Children’s Hospital--to create a digital platform allowing physical therapists to customize and 3D print ring splints within a hospital setting. After inputting a patient’s measurements into the newly created, the therapist can then take the file with the specifications and 3D print customized ring splints with a range of materials, colors and designs. Visit for a full tour of the customization process.

Customizable Support Chair for Pre-Schoolers

Many children with disabilities do not have the motor control to independently sit upright. When provided a chair with sufficient support, they are able to use their eyes and hands for learning and play. Physical therapists from Blythedale Children’s Hospital challenged their team to create a customizable pre-school chair which would provide optimal postural support.

The team created a lightweight and mobile pre-school chair which provides postural support for a disabled child’s trunk, hips and head and which also has the ability to tilt in space for times when a child needs to lean back. This solution allows young children to better engage at play, in school, and in everyday life.

Ali’s Angels

11-year-old need-knower Ali has a tendency to thrust her head backwards when walking, which causes both Ali and her caregiver behind her to lose balance. She also has the tendency to make erratic movements causing her to release, for example, a cup if it is in her hand. The challenge was to create both a head support unit to prevent Ali from thrusting her head backwards and to design a device to secure a cup.

Team ‘Ali’s Angels’ created a lightweight, wearable support system for walking which provides padding to prevent backward head thrusting. The team also designed a cup-holding glove securing Ali’s hand using a thick, comfortable, elastic band. Team ‘Ali’s Angels’ designed creative, low tech solutions and produced significant and effective results for the young need-knower.

Multi-Purpose Wheelchair Bag

Wheelchairs rarely come with accessible bags and those that do are often fitted on the back where they can't be easily reached or will require assistance for access. The challenge was to create a deployable bag system which would provide easy and independent access for Anthony who is a need-knower.

The team created a foldable platform designed to provide Anthony with independent access to his tech, medications, and more. The assistive device is stowed on the side of Anthony’s chair and can be accessed manually to provide him a steady, tray-like surface. This devices also provides a place to write or use an iPad, and its under side contains pouches for storage.

Energy Burst Detector for Self-Injurious Behavior

Self-Injurious Behavior (SIB) is a substantial concern for need-knowers like Ben who have Smith–Magenis Syndrome. SMS patients experience frequent temper tantrums and outbursts which can result in self-injury. The challenge was to build a solution which could help identify, mitigate, and intervene an SIB “energy burst.”

The team hacked a smartwatch to provide essential sensing components for need-knower, Ben. The smartwatch can detect signs of distress such as increased heart rate, irregular movements and muscle contractions. It then audibly communicates with Ben, asking basic questions around his emotional and physical status. Ben has the option to indicate his emotional level by swiping left or right. If he requires assistance or does not respond within 30 seconds, an alert will emit from the watch notifying an accompanying aid of his status and will simultaneously initiate an app designed to calm him down.

Single-Button Remote

Dwight is quadriplegic maker and need-knower who teamed up with local makers to design a single-button remote. The challenge was to to create a solution for a standard remote where buttons were too close together and changing channels was difficult without pressing more than one button.

The team created a voice-activated remote which allows users like Dwight with limited mobility to cycle through TV and light functions. The remote also provides a large, accessible, single selection button large enough to accommodate limited hand mobility. The team’s device provides Dwight greater independence and the prototype has the potential to control additional home devices.

Robotic Dressing Assistant

Jojo is a 4-year-old need-knower with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita--he has curved joints and a minimal amount of muscle which makes many of the activities of daily living very difficult. The challenge was to create a device which would enable Jojo to dress himself independently.

The team built Jojo a mechanically operated dressing assistant that can be attached to any chair. It features a motorized arm which holds Jojo’s shirt open and in place so that he can insert his arms, which are then mechanically raised into a position which completes the dressing process. The device can also be modified to adapt to Jojo as he grows bigger.

Lightweight, Portable Ramp for Urban Environments

Rachel is a need-knower who uses a scooter for mobility in Manhattan. The challenge she presented her to team was to create a portable, light-weight ramp to achieve greater accessibility in urban environments.

The team created a lightweight, foldable ramp system durable for scooter use in cities, and compact enough to travel like a purse between Rachel’s legs. The ramp weighs under 10lbs and can be used to climb curbs and stores with front step access. In providing a need-knower like Rachel greater mobility in Manhattan, individuals with similar challenges now have access to Rachel’s prototype and can navigate various areas overlooked by city planners.

Anti-Slip Cane Tips and Hanger

19-year-old Renee ambulates with two canes with rubber tips and which are extremely slippery on wet surfaces--from rain and snow to marble surfaces and mopped floors. Additionally, when she is seated in public, her canes need to be put aside, and storing canes upright isn’t easy as they they often fall. The challenge was to develop anti-slip cane tips and a lightweight hanger for use in public settings.

Team ‘Yes We Cane’ created anti-slip cane tips with two design solutions: the first was a 3D printed tip which mimics tire designs and the second is modified from a bicycle tire which attaches onto the cane tip for stability on slippery surfaces. The team addressed the second element of the challenge by developing an affordable 3D printed cane add-on which uses a clip function to latch onto objects like a chair in a restaurant.


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TOM:Bulgaria 2017
to Apr 22

TOM:Bulgaria 2017

Radoslav Enev

Rado is a student in 1th grade of Elementary school. He has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, but he is e extremely vital and active. He uses two wheelchairs. One for sitting and the other he uses when he standing up. Rado’s challenge is to create one wheelchair for both poses, which grows with his growing. He also wants to be able to lift himself up and down from this wheelchair without any help.

Milena Velkovska

Milena use one particular route every day to go to her working place. When the weather is bad she takes taxi or she stays at home. Milena chooses only sloping sidewalks, she prefer not to use stairs or high curbs because she has a problem rising her leg. She cannot keep the balance of her body and she is scared of falling down. She doesn’t use any assistive utilities because the physiotherapists didn’t recommend them. They think this will deepen the problems. Milena’s challenge is technical facility as a simulator which can help her overcome her fear. This simulator can imitate different routes using VR technology and can represent different real situations.

Silvia Datsin

Silvia is blind and for her is difficult to recognize the nominal value of different banknotes. The special sign for blind people is very difficult to be felt on Bulgarian money. When a banknote is used for a long time and has gone through the hands of thousands of people it is impossible to recognize this sign. It is more impossible for people who have not finished special school and who don’t know Braille. Her challenge is to find a solution so she can be able to recognize the banknotes and the currency.

Vania Pandieva

Vania is weak. Her hands are not very strong. She uses accumulator wheelchair. Because she usually is sitting almost whole day she has discomfort and pain in the pelvic area. Vania’s challenge is to find a solution for more comfortable sitting with different softness and hardness and a possibility to change them when she needs.

Milena Ivanova

Milena has difficulties in lower and upper limbs. She has muscular atrophy in her wrist. As a result they are curved inwards to the hand. She has problems with her fingers too. That is the reason why Milena can act limited number of actions. Her challenge is to find such a kind of solution which can help her grab more different objects. But most of all she wish she could use walking facility like walking stick which can help her move from one place to another.

Tanya Dimitrova
Tanya Dimitrova is a child of deaf parents and now she works as a hearing rehabilitator. There are a lot of communicative borders between deaf parents and their children. Her challenge is to find technical solution which recognizes the voice of the child and indicates to the mother when she cannot see the child who needs her at the moment. With this solution the deaf mothers will be able to do her work in another room or in other situations when the child is not in front of her.

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TOM:Schechter Westchester
to Apr 3

TOM:Schechter Westchester

Meet your future physicists, neuroscientists, chemists, teachers, lawyers, and businessmen. 

Instead of spending their weekend hanging out with friends or doing homework, 30 students from Schechter Westchester and Golda Och Academy made history in the XLN Idea Lab on Sunday and Monday creating solutions for everyday challenges facing people with disabilities. 

The 2 day Makeathon (marathon of making) organized by Dr. Danny Aviv launched TOM:SW, the newest TOM:Tikkun Olam Makers ( community and the first in history launched on a high school campus. 

TOM is a global movement of communities of makers, designers, developers, and innovators who solve challenges faced by people living with disabilities worldwide. “These young innovators deployed their talent and resources to help local people that face neglected challenges that have no market solution and no government solution.” shared Gidi Grinstein, president of the Reut Group, “by creating specific and extremely affordable solutions to specific problems, and then making the designs globally available, these 11th grade students are part of a global movement that can help millions living with disabilities.”

TOM:SW was launched alongside three college campuses this Spring with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation to mobilize Jewish young adults to make a positive impact in their community.

The Makeathon was split into two sprints: Day 1 focused on replicating solutions created by other TOM Communities around the world and Day 2 focused on creating new solutions for a local resident living with a disability. 

Split into five teams, each with a challenge and instructions on how to create a solution, each team had 10 hours to adapt and replicate using materials and resources locally available. Students surpassed expectations and completed their products in under 6 hours!

Shuval’s Tray: Shuval is a programmer at Motorola in Israel, was born with Cerebral Palsy and uses a manual wheelchair. At lunchtime at work, Shuval has a challenging time managing his lunch tray. A team in the Tel Aviv Developer Groups designed a 3D printed add-on to hold his food tray. Looking at the 3D model, students at TOM:SW noticed that it was not universal for any tray - using a clamp and pvc pipe, the team took the original design and adapted it so other wheelchair users can easily replicate for their unique wheelchair-food tray needs.

Tamar’s Ponytail Holder: Tamar was injured in a horseback riding accident last year and is not longer able to bend her elbow - making putting her hair in a ponytail extremely challenging. A team at TOM:Alyn Good Deeds Day in Jerusalem designed a one-handed ponytail holder. The team at TOM:SW easily replicated the solution and then found youtube videos online of no-tech methods to put a ponytail in with one hand.

Ran’s Sensor: Ran was injured in Operation Protective Edge three summers ago in Israel - he lost one of his legs and the other is partially paralyzed. At risk for pressure sores, Ran is unable to feel whether or not he should adjust his leg brace. A team at TOM:JLM for Wounded Soldiers designed a leg sensor and phone app to alert Ran. The team at TOM:SW read the solution and realized that this may be cumbersome - they replicated the leg sensor and extended the sensor to his stomach, when he needs to adjust, the sensor buzzes.

Bar’s EpiPen Holder: Bar is 6 years old and is allergic to nuts. When the temperature rises above 15-30 degrees celcius, his Epipen needs to be replaced. The team at TOM:Philips designed a canister with a cooling gel that holds the epipen and activates at 27 degrees, starts to a jingle at 29 degrees, and turns on a red light when temperatures reach 30 degrees (telling the user to replace). The team at TOM:SW replicated the case, added palitare tiles to cool and regulate the temperature. If the temperature rises above 29 degrees, the canister starts buzzing. 

Vera’s Door Opener: Vera lives in the Bay Area, uses a power wheelchair and cannot open doors independently. At the Bay Area Makeathon in 2015, the team designed a door stopper so Vera can open the door by herself. While watching a video of Vera using the solution, the team at TOM:SW noticed that Vera still had a challenging time turning the handle of the door and created a high-tech component to also turn the handle of the door in addition to opening the door. 

On Day 2 of the Makeathon, students met with local resident and retired teacher, Mrs. Joan Fuhrman (fondly called “Grandma Joan” by the Makeathon participants). At 83 years old, Grandma Joan leads a very active social life, loves playing mahjong, is active in her synagogue, and has three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Grandma Joan uses a walker to help her maintain her balance but has a challenging time getting her walker into her car and also cannot use an umbrella.

“The impact of the makeathon for both me and my students is the realization that their work/designs/projects can, in the end, make a difference in someone’s life. Everything we do in class is focused around a problem the students themselves define. Working to create projects that were designed for an actual person with a specific need and spending time problem solving with that person makes the process more “real” and valuable.” shared Dr. Kelmanovich of Golda Och Academy.

Splitting into five groups again - 4 from Schechter Westchester and 1 from Golda Och, the teams had 10 hours to create solutions for Grandma Joan’s challenges.

Photo 1: Meeting Grandma Joan and discussing her challenges

Photo 2: Measuring Grandma Joan’s car and ideating

Photo 3: Working hard on a solution to get Grandma Joan’s walker into her car

Photo 4: The team from Golda Och designed a ramp to help Grandma Joan lift her wheelchair into her car. 

Photo 5 and 6: Teams designed both manual and electric pulley systems to pull Grandma Joan’s walker into her car.

Photo 7: Look at this umbrella and shopping basket designed for Grandma Joan’s walker!

The weekend was a success! When asked why he chose to join the Makeathon, Schechter Westchester 11th grader Jacob Lovell shared, “It’s a great opportunity to both help people and to expand my knowledge of engineering. It is also interesting to challenge myself and help people in the process.”

By mobilizing TOM Communities worldwide, TOM:Tikkun Olam Makers ( seeks to address neglected challenges and develop millions of affordable technological solutions for people with disabilities around the globe. Established in 2014, TOM is a strategic initiative of the Reut Group, a Tel Aviv-based innovative policy and strategy group creating and scaling models to ensure prosperity and resilience for Israel and the Jewish People while courageously pursuing a vision to positively impact the lives of 250 Million people in a decade. 

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TOM:Holon 2017
to Mar 31

TOM:Holon 2017

The 48 hour event took place at the Fablabil in Holon between March 29th-31st.

Yakir has weak fine motor skills, he wanted to be able to turn on a tablet and use apps without touching the entire screen. The group created a stand for the tablet that attaches to his chair, and a glove with a stylus on the end that allows his finger to press icons easily. 

Kenya is 15 years old and operates his wheelchair using a joystick with his right foot. The group developed a mouse so he can operate a computer with his leg too.

Evyatar is 20 years old and has muscular dystrophy, he wanted to operate a camera on a smartphone and photograph from different angles. The group has created a device that enables him to adjust and change camera angles.

It is challenging for people to understand Chaya's words. The team created an app that recognizes her face when she speaks and reads her words. Currently the team is working on "yes" and "no" identifiers.

Daniel and Nikita want to play ball but they are different heights and cannot throw the ball. The team created a track in which the rolling ball makes a sound while rolling.

At school the chairs are all the same height, but some of the students cannot reach the floor while sitting, making it difficult for them get off their chair. The team created an adjustable foot stand at different heights according to the students' requirements.

Students with cerebral palsy at school want to play different musical instruments independently but some have a challenging time moving their hands. The group created two musical instruments: An electronic keyboard that makes every keystroke produce music on an app and a flute that is connected to a long pipe that makes it easy to blow.

Shahar is 16 years old and has both cognitive and motor difficulties. She cannot see her hand when she uses a tablet. The group connected two tablets, one near her hand where she can press icons, and the other facing her where she can see what she is pressing.

Students with autism and sensory sensitivities enjoy hugging devices that squeeze the body. The cost of products on the market is about 20,000 NIS. The team designed a similar and inexpensive solution that students can use unassisted.

Aaron is 10 year old and drools, at school he can't use paper or computers because they may get ruined. The team designed a chin cup with a pump that allows the drool to drain off so he can be active in his lessons. 

Children with ADHD have difficulty being part of the lesson. The group produces mechanical games from various materials that kids can play with to stay focused.

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TOM:Berkeley 2017
to Mar 19

TOM:Berkeley 2017

Ligia beamed with tears rolling down her face, “this is perfect”. For the first time in the 8 years since she was injured, Ligia Andrade was applying makeup by herself.

Ms. Andrade is one of 11 people living with a disability who attended this weekend’s 48-hour Makeathon at Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation at UC Berkeley.

Until this weekend, she would apply her makeup by asking a caretaker or one of her sons to hold and position her brushes, pencils, and lipsticks while she would move her face and apply her own makeup flawlessly. However, this system would slow down her morning routine. The “Makeup Applicator” holds all her applicators so she is independent to put on her makeup.

TOM:Berkeley is the newest TOM:Tikkun Olam Makers community - a global movement launched in Israel in 2014 of makers, designers, developers, and innovators who seek to solve challenges faced by people living with disabilities worldwide.  The community is being launched alongside three other college campuses and one high school, all with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation.

“As a mechanical engineering student and quadriplegic due to Spinal Cord Injury, I am very excited to bring a TOM Community to UC Berkeley and engage my peers in an impactful way. I see so much skill and potential amongst my fellow students and see so many activities that my friends and I in the disability community struggle with or simply cannot do because no functional or affordable solution exists.” shared TOM:Berkeley Organizer, Drew McPherson, “By bringing these communities together many of these challenges can be addressed with local community members and through TOM the impact can be amplified to reach communities around the world. ”

With access to the state of the art workshops with 3D printers, laser cutters, water jet cutters, and electronics fabrication, the eleven teams had 48 hours to create working prototypes for their challenges.

Speech Translator

Malia is 11 years old and has severe Cerebral Palsy, which often makes it difficult for people to understand her when she speaks. In school, Malia uses an eye-gaze tracking device to communicate, but the solution is inaccurate, impersonal, and limits her ability to chat with her friends. To help Malia communicate more accurately and more fully, the speech translator team developed software to learn from and adapt to her voice, understand what she is saying, and translate it to others around her. The team, made up of a combination of Berkeley students and Googlers, developed an algorithm that takes in samples of Malia’s voice and trains itself to pick up on the nuances of her speech.

Auto Shift

Alvaro, an MBA student at the Haas School of Business, is quadriplegic with limited motion in his shoulders. He enjoys hand cycling, but current gear shifting mechanisms rely heavily on wrist and grip strength. For Alvaro, this means going for a ride requires a second cyclist to ride alongside him who can reach over and shift the gears for him. The auto shift team, steeped in mechanical engineering experience, developed a gear shift solution using his elbows. The next steps in development for the team include a voice activated solution.

Grocery Helper

Bliss is a mom to three kids, a full-time doctor and is Hemipalegic. When Bliss takes her children out grocery shopping in San Francisco, she finds it difficult to manage both her kids and groceries while navigating city streets in her wheelchair. Looking for solutions in the past, Bliss was turned off by bulky devices that require permanent attachment to her chair – Bliss requires a solution that can be easily added and removed when needed.

The grocery helper team – all brothers of the professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau – developed a solution with only one permanent component – a small, unintrusive metal plate mounted to the back of Bliss’ chair. A swinging basket can be easily added and removed from the plate, providing Bliss a place to place her groceries that can easily be swung to the back of the chair while she carries her kids home on her lap.

Autism Letterboard

For children with autism, communication in school can be a difficult task. Many kids rely on a physical letterboard, a laminated sheet of paper on which students can point out letters that are then relayed by an aide. Not only is the process slow, it severely limits the autonomy of autistic students and relies heavily on the assistance of an aide.

To help facilitate more autonomy in the classroom, the autism letterboard team developed a digitized touchscreen letterboard powered by a Raspberry Pi. Rather than pointing out a letter to an aide, the digital letterboard allows students to touch letters that are then recorded instantly by the computer, both speeding up the process of communication and reducing the reliance on aides in the classroom.


Owen, a Berkeley-based filmmaker and self-taught engineer, can only interface with technology when using his wheelchair. He uses a customized joystick attached to his wheelchair and controlled by his chin. Because Owen spends a lot of time at home outside of his wheelchair, this quickly becomes limiting. But Owen, who developed his engineering prowess by developing solutions to challenges he found in his own life, doesn’t like to think small – in addition to a non-wheelchair-exclusive technology interface, Owen is also looking for ways to automate devices around his house through an app.

To tackle Owen’s multi-faceted challenge, the HouseAUTO team – Team Hada – split into multiple sub-teams throughout the weekend, working on developing everything from a mechanical arm to attach to Owen’s wheelchair, to connecting his joystick to a tablet interface, to setting up a server to control all of the peripheral devices, to hacking into Owen’s door to better connect it to his new home automation system.

Leg Bag Emptier

Rafe sustained a spinal cord injury while traveling through India 10 years ago. He uses a leg bag connected to a catheter. Current devices, Rafe explained, are unreliable and can be difficult to operate. If the mechanism breaks, as it does from time to time, Rafe – and other users – must send in the device to be repaired, leaving them without an autonomous solution for a week or longer. Some current devices are also unreliable in determining whether or not the leg bag is full. If the detector mechanism fails, urine can become backed up in the user’s bladder, potentially leading to serious health complications if not treated soon enough.

The challenge required the leg bag team to develop a solution that is easy, quick, reliable, and completely sanitary. Sensors on the bag controlled by an Arduino connect to Rafe’s iPhone, where he can use an app that keeps track of the last time the bas was emptied and how full it currently is.


Longtime Berkeley resident Bonnie considers herself to be somewhat of an outdoorsman. From her fondness for trails through California greenery to her work with the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, Bonnie loves to spend time outside.

Currently, Bonnie relies on a grabber arm to pick things from her wheelchair. Most of these grabbers rely heavily on wrist and grip strength, making them impossible for Bonnie to operate with one hand. Current devices also have difficulty picking up objects heavier than one pound, forcing Bonnie to rely on maneuvering a converted dustbin to lift heavy objects.

Tendon Glove

As a result of a spinal cord injury, Marcos, an architecture student at UC Berkeley, has no function in his hands, and relies on exoskeleton-type devices to grab objects. Current devices, the team explained, are bulky and can be unstable.

The tendon glove team developed a rigid glove that is easier to don and more stable than other solutions, and that provides Marcos with grip strength between his thumb and index finger he would otherwise not have. Unlike existing devices which are rigid and cumbersome, the team’s solution forms to the shape of Marcos’ hand for easier usability and more flexibility.

The highlights for the team included: writing with a pen, cutting a banana, and eating chips and salsa!


For people with limited to no arm and leg function, a robotic arm attached to a wheelchair can function as a backup working limb. Unfortunately, solutions currently on the market can cost upwards of $50,000, making them unrealistic for many people to purchase. Desktop arms exist and are often cheaper, but are weaker and have a limited range of motion.

Need-Knower Jade created the first prototype of JARL before the makeathon with Owen, the Need-Knower for HouseAUTO, and built off of that knowledge at TOM:Berkeley with the new JARL team. Unlike past prototypes which were non-functional skeletons, this JARL model is equipped with two degrees of freedom and a laser pointer at the end to make operation easier and more accurate. The JARL team’s minimum viable product is a robotic limb that can press elevator buttons, achieved through the two degrees of freedom.

Travel Commode

When Jill’s parents travel, taking their toilet and shower chair with them is difficult – many models aren’t made to collapse, and must be disassembled and reassembled once they’ve reached their destination. Because they were not designed for portability, most are also very heavy and cumbersome, making travel even more difficult.

To facilitate easier, hassle-free travel, the travel commode team developed an inexpensive and lightweight commode that can be easily broken down into parts that fit into a standard backpack or carry-on bag. Once Jill’s parents have arrived at their destination, the device is easy to reassemble without needing a screwdriver or any tools besides a small hex wrench. The team’s device is also much less expensive than similar products on the market.

The solutions developed at the 48 Makeathon will help other people with disabilities around the world. “By creating a specific and extremely affordable solutions to a specific problem, and then making it globally available, every team can help tens of thousands of other users worldwide” explained Gidi Grinstein, president of the Reut Group, “supporting a global network of communities collectively working together to improve the lives of millions of people living with disabilities.”

“Jacob Institute was made for a Makeathon like this” shared George Anwar, a lecturer at UC Berkeley, “It is exciting to see the tradeoff between resources, limited time and what the person with disabilities wants to create a working solution. This event is so much greater than a grade and it teaches our students to put the person in need first. ”

TOM:Berkeley ( is a local community for student Makers, designers, developers and engineers working together with people with disabilities to develop technological solutions for everyday challenges.  This event is co-organized by the student group EnableTech at UC Berkeley, who will provide support for projects to continue after the event.

By mobilizing TOM Communities worldwide, TOM:Tikkun Olam Makers ( seeks to address neglected challenges and develop millions of affordable technological solutions for people with disabilities around the globe. Established in 2014, TOM is a strategic initiative of the Reut Group, a Tel Aviv-based innovative policy and strategy group creating and scaling models to ensure prosperity and resilience for Israel and the Jewish People while courageously pursuing a vision to positively impact the lives of 250 Million people in a decade.

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TOM:IAI Developer Groups
to Aug 8

TOM:IAI Developer Groups

Led by Dana Fellner and Franck Marciano, IAI Engineers developed 12 solutions for people with disabilities in their community. The 6 month process came to an end with 12 new solutions developed. The unique collaboration, has led to the first development cycle of IAI - Developer Groups. 

Developer Groups, are meetings where Makers and Need Knowers meet on a weekly basis, and work together to create solutions for neglected problems in order to enhance the quality of living for anyone that is need.

The challenges that have been solved through the TOM:IAI collaboration are:

Small Swimmer - Yonatan, 8 years old, lost his left eye and wears a glass eye. When going swimming he isn't able to use goggles due to the suction they create while wearing them. The team has created one of a kind goggles - using a plug that is placed on the right lens, that he screws to suction and unscrews to release the suction.

Adaptive Hanukkah Menorah - People with low motor skills have trouble lighting a Menorah on the Jewish holiday of Hannukah. The team created a unique lighter - that uses a motor to switch on, and releases the lighter after a few second in order for it not be hazardous.

Kitesurfing -  Alon, was injured a few years back and is parapalegic. Before his injury, Alon was an avid Kitesurfing - an activity that he found impossible to practice after his injury. Together with the team at IAI, they created a customized surfing chair that is placed on of the surfboard and is able to maneuver together with Alon while he is surfing. Alon has successfully surfed with the solution and the team is now working on version 2 of the design.

Inclusive Large Trash Cans - Children at the Alyn Hospital shared their challenge using the large public flip lid trash cans while using their walking canes. The team solved this challenge by adding a small lever on their canes that they can both use to stabilize and use the cane to open the lid.

Hear Again - Children and adults that undergo Cochlear Implant surgery to regain the ability to listen again in order to learn to speak. For this, the team had developed a one of a kind app - in Hebrew, using auditory and visual aids to help users become familiar with the Hebrew language easily. 

Walk It - Stel uses a walker 80% of the time, however she wants to be able to use her crutches more often. It is too complicated to bring both aids with her everywhere she goes. The team developed a walker that can transition into crutches - this 2-in-1 solution will help Stel become more independent in her everyday life. This solution is still in development to make it lighter weight and easier to manage.

Nerya Box - Nerya, is 9 years old. He has a hard time breathing and uses a breathing machine. The machine, is very bulky, heavy and needs to be carried around using a special box. Every box bought, was never strong enough to last more than a month and would always break! Together with the team - they have built a custom made box for Nerya which is sturdy enough and fits his needs perfectly.

Tray2Go - Individuals using walkers, find it difficult to participate in cafeteria lunch because they are unable to carry their tray independently. The team designed a tray that fits perfectly on the handles of the walker and can be adapted easily for other users.

WheelChair Lift - When Stel drives with family or friends, in her private car - she is lucky to have her own robotic arms that lifts up her wheelchair from the ground to her car’s trunk. But, when taking a cab or riding a car which is not hers, she finds it difficult to ask people to lift the chair on to their car. For this, the team had created a simple solution that would do exactly that! By hooking a spool of rope to the center of the wheel and anchoring to the back seat, the user can turn the wheel and lift the wheelchair up into the car.

Wheelchair to Toilet- Transferring children from their wheelchairs to the toilets might be a difficult task for parents or caregivers - especially if this needs to be done outside of the home. The team created a portable lever slides under the user and lifts them - assisting parents or caregivers. 

Wall Climber - Mor, 26 years old, lost all fingers from frostbite in an avalanche in Nepal 3 years ago. After recovering, he decided to relearn how to rock climb. Securing the rope was extremely challenging - specifically the task of holding the rope while securing the rope. The team designed a "yo-yo" type device that holds the rope while he clips the carabiners.

Achilles Tendon -  Individuals that have lost movement in their legs, still need to find a way to stretch their tendons regularly otherwise they can experience tremendous pain. in order to release pain. The team created a special product that holds the leg and mechanically stretches it for the user by moving the leg back and forth - helping them stretch as much needed.

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TOM:Israel 2017
to Jan 10

TOM:Israel 2017

TOM: Tikkun Olam Makers concluded TOM:Israel 2017 in a whirlwind 72-hour Makeathon at the Technion Institute in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation. The Makeathon (a marathon of making)  brought together over 160 ‘Makers’ - engineers, designers, innovators and problem solvers - from the United States, Canada, England, China, India, Sri Lanka and Israel, to work together with 20 people with disabilities to develop technological solutions for everyday challenges.

In addition to being the largest Makeathon in world history, TOM:Israel 2017 was the first international Makeathon of the growing global movement which expands across Israel, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Australia, and Vietnam. Throughout the 3-day event in Haifa, teams of technologists, designers, therapists, and people with disabilities addressed 17 challenges of people living with disabilities, working hand-in-hand to create prototype solutions.

“With 1.1 Billion people living with disabilities, there is an astronomical number of neglected challenges hindering independence and inclusion." shared Arnon Zamir, Founding Director of TOM "The strength of TOM is the powerful connection of dedicated community mobilized and ready to develop solutions for everyday challenges. We want to invite you to look around your communities, and prepare yourself to help someone in need.”

TOM:Israel 2017 took place in a specially designed workspace at the Technion in Haifa, featuring advanced technology such as 3D printers, laser-cutting machines, and CNC machines. The solutions developed addressed a full range of challenges spanning from transportation to adapting communication devices.  Each of the 17 challenges involved a Need-Knower (a person with a disability or deep understanding of the challenge) and a team of Makers (designers, developers, engineers) working together. PDF with stories

Challenges and open-source solutions!

Sensory Eye Fix is a safe and stable platform for eye gaze Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices for children.

It is exciting to see special systems with sophisticated eye gaze available for people of all ages in Israel. A couple of years ago the Ministry of Health decided that anyone who needed an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device would receive one.

Like most technology, the earlier it is introduced that better resulting success. Yael started using an eye gaze system at age two. Now 3.5 years old and in a preschool with other children, there is a real risk of this 20,000NIS piece of equipment getting knocked over. In addition, Yael needs to be at eye-level with the device to use it - like most 3.5 year olds, at times she is at a table and at other times she is on the floor.

The team at Beit Issie Shapiro was looking for a safe and stable platform to anchor the AAC device. Over the course of 72 hours, the team of makers worked together with the staff at BIS to create three stackable platforms that successfully anchors the device.  

We are looking forward to seeing pictures of this solution in use at Beit Issie Shapiro - and if successful, it is easy to adapt and duplicate for other users with similar challenges.

Chair Call is an app to call a wheelchair to one's’ bedside or back out of the way - clearing space for visitors.

*Photo is of Drew testing the solution using his wheelchair to test to product

Danny is hospital-bound and receives many visitors. After he transfers from his wheelchair to his bed, he doesn’t like having his wheelchair next to his bed because then his visitors can’t hang out with him. So the team designed an app that can “call” his electric wheelchair to his bedside using bluetooth and send the chair to the side of the room and out of they way.

It was 9pm on the second day of the Makeathon and the Makers felt ready to test their model. Everyone was serious, yet, hopeful… as Drew pressed the remote on the app, his wheelchair moved forward and everyone cheered! The joy and excitement was palpable. The team was giddy with excitement and ready to perfect the design to hand it over to Danny back at the hospital.

Water Simon Says is a rehabilitative water game.

TOM has worked with Alyn Hospital on many challenges over the past few years. This challenge was previously tried and failed at a past Makeathon.

Not undeterred and ready to try again, we are excited to share that the team at TOM:Israel successfully designed a solution.

Simon Says is a water based rehabilitation game with the goal of challenging the patient to swim around to different points and turn off the lights (similar to the game Simon Says).

This game is suitable for all ages! We are looking forward to receiving videos or photos of this solution in “play”.

Coffee Break is a unique coffee maker for a Need-Knower with a hand tremor.

Bar studies at Sapir College is independent in almost all her daily activities but she has difficulty making herself a cup of coffee without the coffee spilling as a result of her hand tremor and limited hand movements.

The team designed a conveyor belt coffee maker that makes the coffee the way she likes.

One Hand Crafting are a collection of small tools that adapt everyday school activities - cutting, using a ruler, etc.

Ido is in 5th grade and has partial paralysis in one hand. The team at TOM:Israel sat with him and made a list of things he wished he could do in the classroom but felt like he couldn’t!

From using rulers, cutting paper, and opening markers, Ido had a whole host of difference challenges. The team split up into two groups and designed a few solutions for Ido.

  1. They created a tube that hold the paper so he has better control to cut the paper.
  2. They created a magnet for a ruler so it holds steady
  3. They created a keychain for his marker bag that can easily remove marker caps

The most important thing that the team gave Ido is a sense of independence - to be able to keep up with his classmates without needing to ask anyone for help!

Ride Sharing app connects people with disabilities and wheelchair accessible vehicles.

One of the two teams from CornellTech was tasked with creating a ridesharing app for people with disabilities. You may be familiar with apps like UBER and Lyft - both these apps don’t provide a solution for people with disabilities like vision, hearing, and mobility impairments. While transportation challenges for people with hearing and vision impairment may be solved with education and training by drivers, people with mobility impairment may need more help with equipment like wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers. While some may be able to get into the car independently, others may need assistance making the transfer into the vehicle as well. It can be even more challenging for people who use power wheelchairs, weighing +300lbs that require special vehicles or need special anchors.

The team spoke with many Need-Knowers at TOM:Israel and designed a zipcar/UBER mashup to address the challenge. Like zipcar where there are cars parked in dedicated spots, the vision is to establish a company that can provide access to a fleet of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV). From there, the challenge is connecting someone who is available to drive the vehicle and someone looking for a ride. The idea is to create a pay-it-forward model, perhaps a family-caregiver gives a ride to someone in the community, they receive points in a system called “carma” and they can use those points towards getting rides in the system.

Tube Opener is a special paint tube opener and closer designed for individuals with poor fine motor skills.

Idit is an artist with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) who is having a challenging time opening and closing her paint tubes - which means her expensive paint keeps drying out.

The really amazing thing about this solution was that the team designed it between the PreTOM and the TOM and were able to successful test the solution with her.

The mechanism holds the paint tube in place - while using the pliers to remove or replace the cap to the tube.

Winter Challenge 1 is an umbrella designed for wheelchair users.

Drew McPherson (30) is the up and coming TOM:Berkeley organizer with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation. He came to TOM:Israel as a Maker and found himself in the role of Need-Knower on the team as well as the Need-Knower could not attend the Makeathon.

Drew is originally from Sacramento and is a senior MechE at Berkeley (he will be doing a Masters at Berkeley next year).

Drew leads a team on campus called “Enable Tech” - a multidisciplinary group of students who work in teams together with People with Disabilities to develop solutions for daily challenges. So students learn technical skills and real world application, creating meaning beyond themselves.

10 years ago, Drew was paralysed in a diving accident. Like in Israel, the Bay Area can get pretty rainy in winter months, however as a wheelchair user, it is challenging to keep dry. Umbrellas for someone with partial paralysis in the hands can be challenging, holding the umbrella on the move can be challenging, and incoming wind can make the umbrella completely obsolete.

The team at TOM:Israel designed a hatchback canopy umbrella that can raise or lower with the press of a button!

Winter Challenge 2 are wheelchair wheel cleaners.

Vital Zinger is 29 years old and is a professional wheelchair dancer and lives in Israel.

When it rains outside her wheels get wet and muddy and there is no great way to dry off her wheels. Her team is designing a motorized and removable wheel cleaner that she can quickly clip onto her wheels to clean before entering into the house.

Back to Biking is adaptive biking for someone with below the knee amputations.

Amir, a double below the knee amputee and was looking to ride a bike again - both for enjoyment, but also because the pedaling movement helps him maintain and regain function is is lower body.

The team designed a bike as well as prosthesis that help him ride a bike again.

One Hand Sony is a device to hold the playstation hand control and play with one hand.

Roy’s arm was amputated in a biking accident ten years ago. He wants to play Sony Playstation again with his friends. Although his right hand is fully functional, he has no way to use the remote to play.

The team designed a leg anchor to hold the hand control and adapted the control so he can reach all functionality with one hand.

Gamification of Achilles Tendon is a fun achilles tendon rehabilitation game for a child.

Hadas is 10 year old has Duchenne Syndrome it’s a neurodegenerative disease. Right now he is experiencing muscular dystrophy --- the back of his leg is contracting and shifting. He needs to stretch it to slow down the progression, right now he can only stand on his toes.

But doing stretches everyday is not so fun. This team of CornellTech students decided to try to find a way to improve his stretching regimen.

They split into two groups  working on two parts --- a mechanical pedal to help stretch and a game that connects with pedal that he can control by doing his exercises!

Roy loves art - so as he presses on the pedal, an app on his phone show more and more of a new piece of art.

Toilet Seat Assistance is a portable toilet seat for children who need additional support.

You may recognize Amit from a previous Makeathon where Makers worked with her to design a case for her eye-gaze communication device so she could communicate during hydrotherapy!

Amit gorgeous little girl with a contagious smile! She was joined at the Makeathon by her father and grandfather. Amit has Rhett Syndrome and is completely dependent on others.

Rett syndrome is a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops, causing a progressive inability to use muscles for eye and body movements and speech. It occurs almost exclusively in girls.

Most babies with Rett syndrome seem to develop normally at first, but after about 6 months of age, they lose skills they previously had — such as the ability to crawl, walk, communicate or use their hands.

Over time, children with Rett syndrome have increasing problems with the use of muscles that control movement, coordination and communication. Rett syndrome can also cause seizures and intellectual disability.

Amit is unable to sit up by herself because her back is not strong enough anymore. When she is at home and uses the toilet, she uses a special chair that gives her the support she needs. When she and her family are outside of the house, her mother holds her up to use the bathroom.

As Amit gets older and heavier, this solution is becoming more difficult. Many children in her situation go back to wearing diapers because they cannot use the restrooms outside of the home.

The team designed a foldable, lightweight portable toilet seat that can be taken with Amit on the go and provide her the support she needs to sit up on the toilet independently.

Plane Seat Assistance is an in-flight supportive vest, neck brace, and leg support for a child with CP.

Sitting on an airplane seat can be extremely challenging for children or adults that cannot hold up their bodies independently. The team is designing a vest with metal support in it to give extra support on all sides. It also includes a neck support to hold up the user’s head.

The challenge was submitted by Beit Issie Shapira, a local rehabilitation hospital. The specific Need Knower for this challenge is Guy who is 11 years old and has CP - his father is part of the TOM Community and felt this was a worthwhile challenge to try to find a solution.

Wise Control is an adapted AAC device for Nevo who has poor upper body strength and cortical blindness.

Nevo is a very intelligent and sweet child who lives with severe Cerebral Palsy (CP). He is unable to control the movements of his head or limbs and also has cortical blindness. He communicates through a head control device linked to a system of switches that give him audial feedback as he moves his head. Since he is unable to move his head independently, he cannot communicate through the system by himself. Without an available solution available on the market, Occupational Therapists from Beit Issie Shapiro presented this challenge to adapt the technology to allow Nevo the independence to communicate.

The team thought outside the box and created a unique headband sensor ‘Wise Controller’ that tracks Nevo’s movement, so his movements sends the correct messages to the communication device without him needing to be held upright by a caregiver.

Haifa 3D designed 3D printed prosthetic arms.

Or was a professional photographer who lost his arm in an accident last year. 3D Haifa, a branch of the e-NABLE foundation in Israel, designed a prosthetic arm for him.

Removable Mobile Arm is an adapted iPad communication device holder.

When you meet Yaffa, the first thing you notice is her smile and her impeccable sense of style. Yaffa is in her late 40s and has severe Cerebral Palsy. Unfortunately, it is very hard for her to speak and challenging to understand what she is saying. She is equipped with an iPad based communication device to communicate with the people around.

Debbie is an occupational therapist who works with Yaffa twice a week noticed that on days she was not at the Day Center, Yaffa was denied access to the device. After further investigation, she discovered that the caregivers found the set up extremely cumbersome and had long “given up” setting up the device for her.

The team at TOM:Israel is working on a few challenges:

  1. How can the iPad holder be improved so it is easy to clip in? The team adapted the holder as well as an extended arm so the caregivers can easily attach the extended arm and Yaffa can have control of bringing the iPad closer with the click of her head on her mouse keys.
  2. Since Yaffa has a challenging time moving her head, how can she easily reach the icons on her iPad? The team designed a mouth held tapper for Yaffa to reach the icons!
  3. How can Yaffa use the iPad to do other things - like take photos and increase independence? The team designed a rotator that allows Yaffa to easily take photos and get a good angle.

The team created prototypes of each element, they will have to continue working on the solution to reach a point where it is ready for Yaffa to use.

View Event →
TOM:Philips 2016
to Dec 23

TOM:Philips 2016

Beachair: Lev is a physicist at Philips and a dad to three great kids! His eldest daughter, Nitzan is 15 years old and has Cerebral Palsy. Living on the coast in Israel, he brings his children to the beach but he has to leave Nitzan at home because her wheelchair sinks on sand. There are special beach chairs on the market but the $3-4000 the solution is too expensive (and he doesn’t have room in his car for both chairs at one time). “I know going to the beach is a luxury - but is it really a luxury to want to spend time together as a family?” Lev worked together with his colleagues at Philips to create balloon wheel add ons that can easily clip onto Nitzan’s chair. This simple solution costs 400NIS and can be easily adapted for other transit wheelchairs.

Control: Moshe is 48 years old and has severe Cerebral Palsy. He lives at home with his family and spends the day at a local daycare center where he receives physical, speech, occupational therapy as well as social activities. Moshe is fed through a feeding tube, cannot speak or walk. His favorite activity is playing with pens and TV remotes, he enjoys the clicking sound. Every few hours, Moshe needs to lay down and shifted to prevent pressure sores - during this time he usually makes a noise, a caregiver comes over and brings him pens… and every 15 minutes or so he makes a noise again and the caregiver helps him switch the pens for other pens - while he can’t speak he articulates his preference for what is handed to him. The care center presented a challenge - how can we give Moshe the independence to choose the pens he wants? The team at Philips designed a wheel with containers for the caregivers to fill with pens when it is time for Moshe to lay down -- with a button to turn the wheel when he is ready. While this challenge and solution is unique - the solution provides Moshe the ability to enjoy and give him some independence to do what he loves.

Koli: Liat is 34 years old and is developmentally disabled. While she can understand what people are saying, she cannot speak and cannot read, she uses a walker and requires around the clock help. The home she lives in only has two communication boards, so she ends up gesturing to communicate. The team of Makers met with Liat and asked her what she wanted to communicate - they were surprised by the things that were important to her: painting nails, colors, talking on the phone with her mother or sister, bathroom, temperature, entertainment, taking photos, playing games, painting, dancing, and listening to music. They sat together with her with a collection of emojis and had her choose the ones she liked and connected with. In 3 days, the makers created an android app to help Liat communicate her wants and needs.

Stand Alone: Roee a Philips employee is a volunteer at Etgarim, an organization working with adaptive sports in Israel. When he heard about TOM, he reached out to the CEO and asked, “What is your biggest challenges?” With biking being a popular sport, the organization arranges for tandem biking … but “people keep falling off the tandem bikes” and the organization was thinking about discontinuing the sport. Adi is 27 years old and has Cerebral Palsy, she joined the team at TOM:Philips as the Need Knower for the challenge. She had been biking for almost 10 years - while she has a great riding partner now, she has fallen on multiple occasions (usually around stopping and starting) and so have her friends. The solution involves training wheels that rise when the bike is going above 4KM/hour and lower when the bike drops below 4KM/hour - providing the stability the front rider needs to safely start and stop the bike without tipping over.

Go for itYonatan is almost 2 years old and has Cerebral Palsy - he has poor muscle tone in his legs. His parents and therapists noticed that the off-the-shelf walker was limited in terms of providing the support he needed in terms of pelvic support, wheel control, and support for his arms. The team adapted two walkers for him (one for daycare and one for home) to address each of these three needs.

Happy Pen: Bar is 6 years old and is allergic to nuts. Pretty much when the temperature rises above 15-30 degrees celcius, his Epipen needs to be replaced. This is especially challenging in warmer climates like Israel. Bar’s mother works at Philips and presented the challenge hoping to develop a solution. The team at TOM:Philips designed a canister with a cooling gel that holds the epipen and activates at 27 degrees, starts to beep at 29 degrees, and turns on a red light when temperatures reach 30 degrees (telling the user to replace).

Original Vision: Oron is 30 years old and has severe Cerebral Palsy, he cannot talk and does not have a communication device. He is interested in drawing but when he draws, his body turns and he doesn't see what he is drawing. The team developed a typepad where he draws and sees what he is doing on a screen on the side.

DJ Afik: Afik is 31 years old and has ALS, he can only move his hands a little - and each hand goes in opposite directions. He wants to play music, rather to DJ music (!) so the team at TOM:Philips developed an app involving two tablets, one with play/stop/pause and the other with next/previous/navigate to the next song.

Moti: Moti is a personal motivator! The team met with the local Occupational Training Center, a center that trains people with skills to enter the workforce. The organization creates simulations about real world tasks. The challenge is that in sessions of 15-20 people, the participants have a hard time staying focused. If the task is moving items from one bin to another bin (like in a factory) with a scale monitoring weight change, the system alerts and says, “Hi, I’m still here, are you?” or “Great! Keep it up, keep going!”

Call for help: Uri’s brother in law Roi has ALS. For the past 3.5 years, he has been bedridden. Prior to his diagnosis he was a theatre director - today he continues to write scripts (one of his plays is expected to hit the stage in the Spring 2017). Over the years Uri has developed different DIY solutions for his brother in law, but as the disease progresses, the needs increase. At times, he wants to call people from other rooms in the house, so the team designed 4 buttons (they beta tested with 1 button between the preTOM and TOM to make sure this solution would work).

Fly Off: Avi is 30 years old and is quadriplegic, he is able to use his hands a little. He spends the day outside and was looking for a way to keep the flies away. The team designed a system of fans that he can use easily without obscuring his view.


Hear, Listen (Shabbat): The Need-Knower in this challenges is Sabbath observant and wears hearing aids. When she removes the hearing aids at night, the emit a high pitched squeal - while she can’t hear it, her entire family does. Because of her religious practices, she will not turn off the device - to the team designed a soundproof box to hold her hearing aids at night.

Eurika: Uri is 19 years old and has Cerebral Palsy, he volunteers with the elderly and records their personal stories. With challenges around his fine motor skills, he finds it challenging to hold a mouse. The team designed a special vest that connects with his computer so he can control the mouse on his chest.

View Event →
TOM:Melbourne 2016
to Nov 30

TOM:Melbourne 2016

TOM Melbourne Challenges & Solutions

Team 1: Movers & Shakers

The Challenge: Anat has an acquired brain injury (ABI), after a car accident in 2004. Anat’s right-hand shakes and she finds it difficult to perform everyday activities including writing and using utensils. Her left arm does not function very well because of spasticity (very weak hand).

Anat would like to improve her right-hand functions to be able to write and use utensils easier and with more stability.

The Solution:  A special bracelet that stabilizes her hand and allows her to return to journal writing, one of her passions.

Team Members:

Anat Bigos

Ilana Bigos

Yuqi Tang

Jing Mu

Patrick Lewien

Sihwan Jin

Ricardo Garcia Rosas

Katherine Cameron

Natasha Harrison


Team 2: TechNeck

The challenge: Christian has Hemiplegia and is paralysed from the neck down. He struggles daily with the functionality of his current wheelchair headrest. They are often invariably fixed and inflexible.

Christian’s challenge is that when he needs to look down and tilt his head forward the headrest comes away and no longer provides support. This is a problem for people who have limited lateral (sideways) muscular control. Christian’s challenge is a system that provides headrest support (including lateral support) through the degree of movement of the head and neck from upright to forward (chin on chest).

The Solution: Christian’s team came up with a 3d printed head rest that is controlled by simple electronics that moves with his head motion, constantly giving him support and control.

Team Members:

Cliff Stephenson

Chris Fryer

Nick Fryer

Raphael Moya Castro

Lilith Cabalero Aguilar

Anthony Canepa

Juan Polanco

Daniel Prohasky

Peter McKenzie

Team 3: Step Up

The Challenge: Stacey has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around. She doesn’t like to let her disability stop her from being busy in her daily routines. She loves traveling around but her biggest barrier is stairs, specifically sidewalk curbs without curb cuts and shops that have just one or two stairs at the entry. She feels segregated and excluded when she can’t go into a cafe or a shop simply because there is no ramp. Stacey will be traveling independently overseas with her electric wheelchair, however, it is heavy and hard to lift. Stacey’s dream is to be able to independently overcome inaccessible environments wherever she goes in the world. It would change her life and many others.

Oren is a Lecturer of Biomechanics and Clinical Gait Analysis at Swinburne University. He wants to reduce the physical effort in a wheelchair and create an assistive technology device that can overcome uneven terrain. Oren is also a researcher and will work in partnership with Stacey to develop a solution to her challenge.

The Solution: In consultation with Stacey, the team created a portable ramp solution that includes 2 parts that are stored on the side of her wheelchair. When she approaches a curb, Stacey uses a stick with a magnet at the end to place the two ramp pieces next to the curb; she drives her chair up and then turns to pick up the pieces and return them to their storage space.

Team Members:

Stacey Christie

Oren Tirosh

Benjamin Sterr

Ka Chun Fong

Ayden Monasnt

Joel Kuperholz

Naomi Lowen

Monique Calleya-Kiefer

Kathik Laxmi

Prince Garg

Len Lines

Team 4: The Bridges

The Challenge: Gemma is a specialist Occupational Therapist & Assistive Technology Consultant and has a challenge for her client who has a spinal cord injury. Her client has no finger control and finds it difficult to hold a video game controller in his hand. Her challenge is to create a controller modification device that can be used with one hand. This problem also exists for drone and other remote control cars that require hand control.

The Solution: The team created a board that attaches onto the front of the wheelchair like a table. They then created large buttons that recreate the actions of a video game controller’s and are easily pressed. This allows to play the games without ever needing to hold a remote.

Team Members:

Gemma McDonald

Tom Donaldson

Harry Robertson

Georgia Tremayne

Lam Nguyen

Bjorn Davies

John Hunter

Team 5: Operation Sit Down

The Challenge: Jack has cerebral palsy which mainly affects his legs and he therefore, walks with canadian crutches. He finds walking okay but gets very tired when having to stand in one spot. This makes many outings very difficult as he cannot sit down. Often seats are hard to find or not in very convenient locations. Jack’s challenge is to be able to use his crutches as a seat.

The Solution: Jack’s team adapted his crutches and created an attachment using a fabric camping chair in order to create a collapsible seat for him. The seat is part of his crutches and is easily set up.

Team Members:

Jack Leighton

Jane Leighton

Matthew Wooley

Andrew Leigh

Seth Jones

Angelo Papgeorgiou

David Marcuson

Chang Liu

Chen Qian

David Cameron

Shawn Lyal

Team 6: Re-Cycle

The Challenge: Mandy is a quadruple amputee and a motivational speaker. She has two prosthetic hands and two prosthetic legs. She can’t bend her knees past 90 degrees and therefore cannot ride a bike; She also can’t use a recumbent bike. Mandy’s challenge is to create a device to allow her to ride a tricycle.

The Solution: Mandy’s team combined and adapted two existing bike frames to make her new bicycle. Adaptations included; a mechanism to allow for back pedal brakes and gears, an electric motor, and new pedal and handlebar placement to allow her better control and reach with prosthetics. Of course, the bike was also painted bright red just as Mandy requested.

Team Members:

Rod McCracken

Mandy McCracken

Ruth Twardy

David Jennings

Andrew Henderson

Llewellyn Mann

Aileen Magnusson

Nir Nikolaevsky

William Teare

Team 7: Switched On

The Challenge: Gemma is a specialist Occupational Therapist & Assistive Technology Consultant and has a challenge for her clients who find it difficult to turn on a computer or laptop as they cannot use their arms at all. The power button is either too small or out of reach. They can, however, operate a computer using a head controller or mouth controlled mouse. Her challenge is to create a technology device to help them turn a computer on.

The Solution: The team used 3D printing and simple programming to create a device with an  ‘electronic finger’ that can be alerted to turn on the computer. The device is portable and can be attached to any computer.

Team Members:

Gemma McDonald

Michael O’Connell

Anh Nguyen

Aaron Lim

Christopher Ly

James Dean

Ranka Margaretic

Ariella Naumburger

Team 8: Jill Will

The Challenge: Reece is an Occupational Therapist and has a challenge for one of his clients, Jill. Jill has cerebral palsy, which has affected all her arms and legs, meaning she is in a wheelchair full time. This has lead to an increase in the risk of a pressure-related injury. Although Jill has around the clock carers, she can still complete some tasks independently. It’s important that when undertaking these activities she remains in the correct posture to avoid a pressure- related injury. Her challenge is to create a pressure sensitive system with feedback that can be used on wheelchairs to help with posture and aid in the movement of the buttocks, legs and back.

The Solution: Jill’s team worked with her and Reece to create a system that sits under her in her wheelchair and, using a network of sensors, can alert her to to incorrect movement or posture. Thus allows her and her carers to correct and avoid injury.

Team Members:

Reece Adams

Jill Porter

Jeremy Kostecki

Michael Haines

Jamie Hislop

Jacinta Moloughney

Natalie Rode

Daniela Duc

Kieran Ball

Ben Shemesh

Team 9: Youki’s Island

The Challenge: Youki is a 19-year-old boy born with cerebral palsy. He cannot walk and uses an electric wheelchair which he controls the joystick with his right hand. His cannot use his left hand, both legs are paralysed and finds it very difficult to balance. The challenge for his Mum is getting him dressed and changing his clothes; as Youki’s weight makes it very difficult for her to physically support him while trying to dress him.

The Solution: Youki’s team worked with him and his parents to develop several unique solutions. One is a harness that can be attached to a paiir off pants to allwo Youki to dres himself. This also include a mechanism to allow him to close zippers. Another is a system of pulleys attached to a portable structure which assists his mother in dressing him.

Team Members:

Youki Innes

Sayuri Innes

Melika Moghaddam

Arusha Siddiqui

Varvara Fintisova

Kas Kalami

Lawrence Cheng

Oliver Howden

Ina Stavril

Team 10: Tiger Eyes

The Challenge: Mike is the Customer & Community Engagement Manager at Scope and has a challenge for one of his clients Kevin Thomas.

Kevin is in his 50’s and has a complex physical disability; this means that he uses alternative ways to communicate and has only very limited use of his arms and head. Kevin is not able to use eye tracking but can manipulate switches if they are large. Kevin loves the Richmond Football Team and Horse Racing and would like the opportunity to be able to access this information via the Internet and have it spoken to him. Currently, Kevin relies on others to help him set up a computer, find the information, and work with him closely to access the exact information he is looking for. Kevin would like a system that will allow him to do these tasks independently without needing to rely on others.

The Solution: Kevin’s team worked with him closely to create a software solution which allows for Sites and searches of Kevin’s favorite subjects to be available on his desktop in large easy icons. The also created a large easy to use button that Kevin can operate. The sites Kevin wishes to access are then put into a custom text-speech program automatically to allow Kevin to access the content independently.

Team Members:

Mike McDermont

Kevin Thomas

Jason Chiang

Xuan Wei Low

Hermawan Mulyono

Shruthi Ashwathappa

Richard Lipp

Michael Niemann

Reagan k Susanto

Miranda Charlton

Pichratanak Ky

View Event →
miniTOM:Exponential Medicine
to Oct 11

miniTOM:Exponential Medicine

With the generous support of Ovid Pharmaceuticals, TOM had the honor of hosting a miniMakeathon at Exponential Medicine. Makers from around the world descended on San Diego to develop open-source solutions with Stacy McCarrell Ruddick, mother of three children with Angelman Syndrome. The conference was a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness about TOM, Angelman Syndrome, and to discuss solutions with the world's leading innovators of healthtech. The resulting solutions from the makeathon have already benifited other children experiencing similar challenges.

Arnon Zamir, Founding Director of TOM with Stacy McCarrell Ruddick, mother of three children with Angelman Syndrome - on the mainstage of Exponential Medicine

Arnon Zamir, Founding Director of TOM with Stacy McCarrell Ruddick, mother of three children with Angelman Syndrome - on the mainstage of Exponential Medicine

Angelman syndrome is a complex genetic disorder that primarily affects the nervous system. Characteristic features of this condition include delayed development, intellectual disability, severe speech impairment, and problems with movement and balance (ataxia). Most affected children also have recurrent seizures (epilepsy) and a small head size (microcephaly). Delayed development becomes noticeable by the age of 6 to 12 months, and other common signs and symptoms usually appear in early childhood.

Children with Angelman syndrome typically have a happy, excitable demeanor with frequent smiling, laughter, and hand-flapping movements. Hyperactivity, a short attention span, and a fascination with water are common. Most affected children also have difficulty sleeping and need less sleep than usual.


Stacy McCarrell Ruddick with her children Olivia (11), Denise (7), and Harrison (9)

Stacy McCarrell Ruddick with her children Olivia (11), Denise (7), and Harrison (9)

Stacy's three children were all born with Angelman Syndrome. Olivia (11), Harrison (9), and Denise (7) are happy, outgoing children. They are all nonverbal and use communication devices to communicate, they are treated for seizures, and have a heightened sensitivity to different materials.

Stacy shared a few of her challenges:

  1. From experience she can usually tell if one of her children is about to experience a seizure, but she doesn't have a way to detect seizures. Current products on the market include wristbands, but her children won't wear them.
  2. Stacy's children have challenges with fine motor skills and it can make using their iPad based communication devices challenges. 

  3. All three children go to schools with emphasis on mainstreamed education. Using pens and markers can be challenging as a result of challenges with fine motor skills and the material of the writing utensils.

  4. Child gates are made for small children. Stacy keeps dangerous objects in her kitchen, but as her children grow, her child gate no longer keeps them out of danger.
Makers from around the world flew to Exponential Medicine to develop open-source solutions with Stacy for her children.

Makers from around the world flew to Exponential Medicine to develop open-source solutions with Stacy for her children.

Makers of all background met with Stacy at her home - the dream team was made up of Ilan Sherman, Jonathan Asher, Matan Ninio, Guy Sheffer, Hagit Alon, Yoav Argov, Oded Shorer, Bo Pollet, Matthew Leong Chun, Dexter Ang, David Cipoletta, Sarayah Moore, and Gal Friedman.

Using beddit technologies, Matan and Guy programmed the device to track heartrate, change in temperature, and movement. By placing it on the children's beds, the data collected will be able to provide valuable information to track seizures.

Using beddit technologies, Matan and Guy programmed the device to track heartrate, change in temperature, and movement. By placing it on the children's beds, the data collected will be able to provide valuable information to track seizures.

This DIY lock for the kitchen gate was designed by Matt, instead of a latch, this lock uses a series of patterns to unlock - making the kitchen safe once again. (This product is still in development)

This DIY lock for the kitchen gate was designed by Matt, instead of a latch, this lock uses a series of patterns to unlock - making the kitchen safe once again. (This product is still in development)

Olivia has a challenging time using her communication device on her iPad, by creating a anchor she is able to press icons with easier precision.

Olivia has a challenging time using her communication device on her iPad, by creating a anchor she is able to press icons with easier precision.

This solution was first designed at TOM:Nazereth! We are excited to see the need for an affordable grid for iPad-based communication devices. Simple lazer cutting and 15 minutes later, the iPads are easier to use!

This solution was first designed at TOM:Nazereth! We are excited to see the need for an affordable grid for iPad-based communication devices. Simple lazer cutting and 15 minutes later, the iPads are easier to use!

Stacy brought her friend Jamie to the miniMakeathon. Jamie's son also has Angelman Syndrome and doesn't like the feeling of plastic. At 5 years old, learning to write is critical for development. Bo developed this soft but 'crunchy' sleave for markers and pens.

Stacy brought her friend Jamie to the miniMakeathon. Jamie's son also has Angelman Syndrome and doesn't like the feeling of plastic. At 5 years old, learning to write is critical for development. Bo developed this soft but 'crunchy' sleave for markers and pens.

Stacy mentioned that Harrison doesn't enjoy writing because of challenges around his fine motor skills. After further analysis, the team noticed that while he has stiffer movement in his wrist, it looked like he just needed a little extra support for his elbow. This small contraption suctions to the table, has a moveable soft disk (held down with magnets) - and will give Harrison the support he needs.

Stacy mentioned that Harrison doesn't enjoy writing because of challenges around his fine motor skills. After further analysis, the team noticed that while he has stiffer movement in his wrist, it looked like he just needed a little extra support for his elbow. This small contraption suctions to the table, has a moveable soft disk (held down with magnets) - and will give Harrison the support he needs.

Sponsored by:

View Event →
TOM:Buenos Aires 2016
to Sep 25

TOM:Buenos Aires 2016

TOM: Buenos Aires - 23, 24 y 25 de Septiembre de 2016


Tenés curiosidad sobre lo que cada equipo está creando?
Querés conocer las historias detrás de cada desafío?
O simplemente querés ver a más de 100 voluntarios en acción!
Durante el Make-a-Thon vas a poder venir a ver todo lo que estamos armando.

Completá el formulario para visitarnos:

Team TenazAyuda

María Belén Ruiz is from Mar del Plata, is 29 years old, and works at PAMI escucha. She is a Paralympic athlete and is a member of Argentina’s Boccia Team. She suffers from severe Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita that has affected her four limbs since she was born. She has learnt to write, paint and use the computer using an adaptor on her wheelchair. The challenge is that people with AMC cannot do everyday tasks with hands: take pictures, comb their hair, hold a cup etc and become more autonomous.

The TenazaAyuda is a robotic arm design to be added to a wheelchair and to be controlled using a controls. It is meant for people with almost no mobility, it helps fulfil personal and work needs. With this prototype we hope that people with reduced mobility can do everyday tasks with more autonomy and to satisfy their basic need in an independent way. This autonomy will have a big impact in their lives. The prototype also aims to find a low cost solution so that everyone can have access to it.

María Belen es deportista paralímpica y forma parte de la Selección Argentina de Boccia. Ella padece de artrogrifosis multiple que afecta a los cuatro miembros desde su nacimiento. Gracias a una terapia ocupacional, desde temprana edad aprendido a escribir, pintar y manejar la computadora con una adaptación a su silla de ruedas. Sin embargo, su desafío consiste en todo aquello que no está a su alcance: llamar el ascensor, sacarse fotos, agarrar el mate, etc.

Team Members:

  • Anabella Di Stefano (Industrial Design)

  • Daniel Fernández (Computing Engineer)

  • Diego Durante (Electronical Engineer)

  • Luca Fondello (Industrial Design)

  • Maitena Guedes (Industrial Design)

  • María Belén Ruiz (Need Knower)

  • Martín Oppenheim (Business Administration)

  • Melina Ausqui (Psychology)

  • Natalia González Trajtman (Nutrition and Food Sciences)

  • Santiago Marchetti (Mechanical Engineer)

Team Brazos mágicos

Linda lives in Jujuy, she is 6 years old. She suffers from Polymicrogyria, a neurological disorder that affects her motor skills. Linda needs to receive constant stimulation in her limbs to gain strength. The orthotics developed at TOM:Buenos Aires consists of a passive exoskeleton that balances part of the weight of Linda’s arms using a series of resistant elastic bands that can be added or removed as needed. The rehabilitation device contributes to the muscular development by reducing the effort but not completely nullifying it. The system consists of an external corset that adjusts to the body and fastens the arms, and a series of sticks and joints that form the exoskeleton armas, to which the resistant bands are fit.

Linda tiene 6 años es una divina. Padece de una enfermedad que produce trastornos asociados a todo lo motriz. Dado que sus capacidades cognitiva no están comprometidas, Judith, su mamá, nos explica el desafío: “Ella necesita poder desenvolverse plenamente. Necesita recibir estimulación frecuente en las extremidades para ganar fuerza”.

Team Members:

  • Andrés Menna (Developer)

  • Ariel Nahmod (Educational Sciences)

  • Gisella Kraisman (Sculptor)

  • Ionatan Hauzpigiel (Music Professor)

  • Ivan Granieri (Electrical Technician)

  • Javier Skorupski (Industrial Design)

  • Judith Suliban y Linda Núñez (Need Knowers)

  • Natalia Petit (Interaction Design)

  • Patricio Herrán (Industrial Design Student)


Mariano Santoro is 25 years old and is from Don Torcuato, Buenos Aires. Seven years ago Mariano had an accident that left him quadriplegic. The challenge is that as a result of lack of mobility he cannot do things on his own like self feeding, writing with a pen, or getting dressed. Together with a team of Makers at TOM:Buenos Aires, they designed an accessory that allows mario to hold a fork, spoon, pen and cut using with a knife with universal holders.

Mariano es de Don Torcuato, provincia de Buenos Aires, y sufre de cuadriplegia. Esto le impide tomar objetos cotidianos como cubiertos, vasos, tijeras, biromes y cosas tan cotidianas como el abrochado de botones.

Team Members:

  • Daiana Alegre  (Graphic Design / UX)

  • Jimena Califa (Industrial Design)

  • Luis Acevedo (Marketing)

  • Magali Finkelstein (Industrial Design)

  • Mariano Santoro (Need Knower - Physical Education Student)

  • Nicolás Rosenvasser (Mechanical Engineer)

  • Nicole Nagelkop (Occupational Therapist)

  • Sofia Romero (Mechatronics)

  • Tomás Ottolenghi (Industrial Design Student)

  • Yanina Diament (Philosophy Student)

Team aprISA

Isabel is a beautiful 3 years old girl living with Spastic Dystonic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. Lucila, her mother, told us: “Isabel has a weak muscle tone in her trunk, that limits her capacity to sit, stand and balance. Isabel has intact cognitive development and it is according to her age, that makes her want to play and do activities as any other kid her age”.

Isabel has a challenging time walking using a walker. The team at TOM:Buenos Aires developed an accessory for her walker, giving Isabel independence in walking while interacting with her surroundings. It provides the support needed to facilitate daily activities and allow a maximum adaptation to the size and weight of the user.

Isabel tiene 3 años y es hermosa. Desde su nacimiento, Isa sufre de parálisis cerebral y cuadriparesia distónica, producto de una falta de oxígeno. Lucila, su mamá, nos contó: “Isa tiene un tono muscular muy débil en su tronco, lo que limita su capacidad para sentarse, pararse y hacer equilibrio. Isa tiene un nivel cognitivo intacto y acorde a su edad, lo que la hace querer jugar y realizar actividades como cualquier chico de su edad."

Team Members:

  • Claudio Guerchicoff (Psychology)

  • Constanza Reca (Industrial Design Student)

  • Fernando Angel (Industrial Design Student)

  • Florencia Soto (Industrial Design)

  • Gisela Ceccotti (Kinesiology)

  • Gladys Carina Torres (Kinesiology and Surgical Instrument Assistant)

  • Ianina Madanes (Psychology)

  • Juan Pablo Roma (Mechanical Engineer)

  • Lucila Antognini, Pablo Harriague e Isabel (Need Knowers)

  • Melanie Blejter (Engineer in Information Systems Student)

  • Micaela Tarlovsky  (Industrial Design Student)

  • Santiago Tiphaine (Industrial Engineer)

Team Anti-pressure sore cushion

Juan Barone is 28 years old and is an Interior Designer. He suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness, the disorder affects 1 in every 3500 males. He currently works at the  Ministry of Sports of San Miguel. On his free time he plays in Argentina’s Powerchair Football team. “I believe that having a disability is not an obstacle to achieving your goals as long as you try to reach them with determination”.

The challenge is that Juan sits in his wheelchair 10 hours a day and without proper circulation and develop pressure sores. The team developed a cushion that has many layers on its inside that absorb the heat from the supporting surfaces and by doing that help people from getting pressure sores and other related problems.

Team Members:

  • Agostina Corrente (Multimedia Design)

  • Axel Mazzeo (Industrial Design Student)

  • Emiliano Rocco (Industrial Design)

  • Hugo Jaca (Computer Sciences)

  • Ileana Robredo (Industrial Design)

  • Juan Barone (Need Knower - Interior Design)

  • Liat Kejsefman (Interior Design)

  • Natalia Romero (apparel design)

  • Patricia Muñoz (Industrial Design)

Team IP4U

Valentino is 11 years old and lives in Pacheco, Buenos Aires with his parents and brother. Valen is very sociable, he plays chess and is part of Powerchair Football Argentina. He suffers from Spinal muscular atrophy type 2 (SMA II), an inherited condition that affects the muscles. Because of his condition, Valen cannot walk or go to the bathroom independently, so there must be an adult with him at all times. Valen came to TOM looking for a way so he can pee independently. The team developed a silicone cup that siphons the urine to a container located on the side of the wheelchair, that can be emptied, sterilized, and reused.

Team Members:

  • Andrés Spangenthal (Psychology Student)

  • Daniela Carvajal (Industrial Design Student)

  • Emanuel Morano Solé  (Industrial Design Student)

  • Ezequiel Macri  (Industrial Design Student)

  • Lorena Lardizabal y Valentino (Need Knowers)

  • Martin Rojtenberg (Industrial Design)

  • Nicolas E. Juarez (Industrial Engineer Student)

  • Sebastián Carrazzoni (Electronic Engineer Student)

  • Vanessa Zuin (Industrial Design)


Daniela Onorato studied Communication Sciences at UBA and she is a businesswoman. She’s been suffering from Bilateral Macular Lesions for the last 15 years, it is an illness that affects the sight and does not allow her to cross the street on her own. The area where she lives, Villa Libertad, a province of Buenos Aires, has few lights and that makes it even harder to cross the street on her own. “I want to feel confident and independent” Daniela expressed.

The team developed a device that contains a camera that films and processes the images live in order to detect movements and that through an app with a voice alert indicates the user when something is coming so that the user does not cross the street or does the opposite when there’s no movement.

Team Members:

  • Ary Altman (Architecture)

  • Brenda Hapoñuik (Textile Design)

  • Daniela Onorato (Need Knower - Communication Sciences)

  • Diego Bosin (Systems)

  • Guido Paez (Modelling and 3D Printing)

  • Ivan Fardjoume (Electronic)

  • Javier Velasquez Traut (Electronic)

  • Julieta Straminsky (Business Administration)

  • Maia Romano (Economy)

  • Mariana Arando (Industrial Design)

  • Tomás Mazur (Electronic)

View Event →
TOM:Calgary 2016
to Aug 28

TOM:Calgary 2016

Bringing communities together to solve personalized challenges posed by people with disabilities. TOM:Calgary 2016 is happened AGAIN in August!

What is a makeathon? A marathon of making!

Need Knowers were encouraged to submit challenge(s) to TOM:Calgary. They were then matched with a team of makers, whom they worked with to create an assistive device - and the manufacturing all happened in a spectacular 72 hour period!

Team Raising Chair

When you sign up for TOM:Makeathon, you have to “be ready to work hard and work fast” shared 19 year old Mechanical Engineering student, Daniel Krayzel. Daniel, Chris Kotelmach, Michal Dattner, Reza Zadeh worked together with Hillary Villeneuve and her parents Jeanette and Tony to design a chair with a lift so Hillary can easily and comfortably join her family at the dinner table.

Diagnosed with Rett Sydrome at the age of 2, Hillary now 19 years old is a high school graduate who enjoys playing baseball, bowling, and horseback riding. She also enjoys music therapy, watsu water therapy, and horticulture therapy. Hillary is a people person, always cheerful and sociable, she is curious about the world around here and is always trying new things.

Hillary and her parents are extremely excited about the newly outfitted lift chair that adjusts to different heights that will also be comfortable for Hillary to watch TV, hang out in the kitchen, or play on the computer. Check out the design -

Team AudioPhiles

Gina Nenniger is a Maker through and through. She met Richard, TOM:Calgary organizer when her son joined the Western Canadian Robotics Society (WCRS), after he went off to college, she stayed involved! Her home is always open, Gina’s got young innovators working from dawn to dusk, through the night on new designs!

Gina recently started experiencing hearing loss, with her four kids living around the world, she decided to learn a new language. But she found herself not hearing all the syllables and missing half the words. She presented her challenge to TOM:Calgary.

Martin Berka, Yuting He, Tanner Collin, and Paul Parkin were assigned to work together with Gina to develop a solution! After three days and two sleepless nights, the team succeeded at developing a new product - so Gina can put on earphones and listen to music or learn a new language. At the beginning of the event, Martin shared how the team had worked with sensors before but didn’t have experience working with sounds, but the power of the TOM team is that they all work together on this new terrain and succeed together! The team had a great time working with Gina, her expertise and “engineering way of thinking” made it fun to discuss new ideas and bounce around directions for the project. Check out the project here -

Team Lift

Ben Haines has one message for you, “Never give up”. At 29 years old, Ben moved to Calgary back in ‘97 and is the expert when it comes to fixing appliances in the region, “name a company, I’ve worked with them..”

On December 7th, 2016, Ben was injured in a diving accident and is now quadriplegic. Holding true to his mantra, he’s making plans for the future - may go back to school to study criminology, psychology or business or may go into addiction counseling.

Still at the rehabilitation hospital, Ben has his eye out to achieving independence - from working with his friends to outfit a bus that can manage the back hills of the Canadian Rockies to designing a safe way for him to float down river.

Ben now requires a body lift to help get him into bed, but after looking around, he realized that if he wanted to go to a hotel or stay at a friend’s house, there was simply no portable lifts on the market.

Ben worked together with Zaid Abdul-ghafoor,  Justin Bagga, Anubhav Gupta, Guy Musahanov and successfully designed a body lift, weighing only 50 lb that can fit into a check-in bag and can be easily assembled by a single person. Check out the designs here -

Team Extra Set of Hands

Rose was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease at the end of 2002, on the same day her youngest granddaughter was born. “We were pretty lucky that the news overshadowed the other.”

Rose was paired with Tahmid Khan, Lauren Jatana,  Ismail Kamal, and Bob Cai to develop solutions for her challenges. Rose struggles with “freezing”, a sudden, brief inability to start movement or to continue moving (like walking).

Rose has a challenging time picking things up off the floor as a result of the freezing and losing her balance. The team designed a custom-made cane that has a remote controlled grabber and a lazar so Rose can track and minimize “freezing”. Check out the project here -

The team was working with Rose in the weeks leading up to the makeathon, so when Rose mentioned that she was having a hard time with stairs, the team discussed hitech solutions... but realized after speaking with Rose that by placing neon masking at the edge of the stairs, she would would be able to track her steps. Rose was overjoyed.

Team Straight Up G

When Alan Yu joined TOM:Calgary, he mentioned that he “Hopes to have made a change in someone's life, I want to design something achievable and to make an impact”

Alan, Ellie Chen and Lucas Chen worked together with Julietta Gloria Rubio to help her figure out a way to stop straining her back. Gloria, originally from Mexico with her MA in Engineering of Transportation and Logistics was born with a degenerative eye disease which has caused her to become legally blind.  

“Sometimes a small tool is a big difference in our lives.” Gloria explained that everything is interconnected, when you have short sight, you may have headaches and chronic back pain from bending over and straining to see.

The team worked for 72 straight hours to develop a solution for this challenge and designed a small device that Gloria clips to her shirt and vibrates when she bends over for more than 10 seconds. This reminds Gloria to sit up straight. The added beauty of the device is that it can fit in her purse and she can bring it on the go. Check out the solution here -

Team Zhao

Calvenn Tsuu moved to Canada in 2000, his father-in-law, Yie Zhao, lives in China and suffered a stroke 2 years ago. Tsuu is always looking for ways to help his father-in-law and went so far as to bring him a powered wheelchair from Canada last year.

With the aging population worldwide and limited income, there aren’t enough Physical Therapists available for stroke patients. In countries like Japan, they have designed robots to do therapy with patients.

With time, Zhao’s muscles are atrophying. Calvenn, Roberto Martinez, Riley Booth, and Jacob George created a wheelchair mounted elbow extender to help Zhao regain movement in his right arm. The new product currently costs $150 to develop. Check out the design here -

Team Goalie

Meet Kari Parson. Kari is starting medical school next semester, she has autism and dyslexia. In order to keep track of her tasks, Kari has developed a paper-based approach guiding her through each step of the day. With the upcoming school year, she reached out to TOM to help her develop a system that could help her track her goals and obligations.

Paul Natarajan, Ulian Shahnovich, and Mason Brothers designs a web application for Kari, taking her paper based workflow and putting it online. Check out the application here -

Ulian shared, “TOM:Calgary was a wonderful opportunity to work directly with a Need Knower without barriers that you get in the real world… this event gives us the opportunity to give  the project 150% and really do anything we want to do. All you need it to bring yourself and turn on your imagination! In the real world you have your job description and you go from there, here it’s a really unique work in process. In the end of the day, we get to see the Kari with the products… and happy.. We know that development of this app would have been very expensive otherwise, but that is what makes TOM so unique.”

Thank you to the TOM:Calgary partners:

A huge thank you to everyone who made TOM:Calgary 2015 such a success:

Calgary Jewish Federation
Maker Faire
Calgary Makerbus
Telus Spark
4G Vision Tech Ltd.
Calgary Tool Library
Hawk Ridge Systems
Parkinson Society
Chianti Uptown on 17th Ave, Calgary
Aladdin Donair & Pizza, Calgary
Subway in Bridgeland, Calgary
Community Natural Foods
Phoenix from Shaw – Go!
Our wonderful need-knowers, design teams and volunteers

View Event →
miniTOM:JLM 2016 for Wounded Warriors
7:00 AM07:00

miniTOM:JLM 2016 for Wounded Warriors

In this 12 hour miniMakeathon, injured veterans and Makers developed solutions for 5 challenges. This unique miniMakeathon saw veterans helping veterans, and supporting each other by making together.

Challenge 1: Shauli was injured in his arm during reserve duty during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He is able to close his hand, but has a challenging time opening his hand. His dream is to be able to easily make sandwhiches for his three kids again. The team designed two braces to improve flexibility in his hand so he can grab things - one with an engine using Arduino and the other a plastic splint with printed parts. 

Challenge 2: Ran was injured in Operation Cast Lead in 2008, one of his legs was amputated and the other is paralyzed. He is looking for a way to know if he is at risk for developing a pressure sore in his leg. The team designed an app that connects with his brace to warn him to shift his leg to reduce risk of pressure sores.

Challenge 3: Niv was injured in Operation Protective Edge in 2014. He has been through a tremendous amount of therapy to regain function in his arm, but he would like to figure out a way that he would be able to do chin-ups again. The team  designed a product connecting tension rods to transfer his weigh to his forarm so he can lift himself. 

Challenge 4: Moran is 28 years old and was injured in Pilots Course eight years ago.

(Project 1) Moran uses crutches and works in a biology lab. She is looking for a way to carry test tubes safely. The team developed a tray that attaches to her crutches with various size holes to carry different tubes, tools, and cups. The design uses a bicycle chain with stablization. 

(Project 2) Moran enjoys traveling but cannot pull her suitcase while using her crutches. Her team designed a belt that attaches to her suitcase so she can walk and pull at the same time.

Challenge 5: Yossi was injured in Operation Cast Lead in 2008. He likes playing with his nieces and nephews, but he finds that when he tries to go from his wheelchair to the floor, he is essentially vaulting his body onto the floor. He is looking for a way to safely get to the floor without adding weight to his wheelchair. The team designed a removable seat to attach to his wheelchair our of metal and wood so he can safetly get down to the floor and back up to his chair. 

View Event →
TOM:DC 2016
to Jul 24

TOM:DC 2016


Nova Labs proudly hosted TOM:DC 2016. During the 72 hour makeathon they developed hardware and software product prototypes designed to meet needs that people with disabilities identify are important to them. By bringing together people who understand the needs (‘need-knowers’)alongside engineers, designers, developers and makers, and providing a space for innovation and prototyping, teams successfully created solutions, made new connections and shared unique experiences.

Projects completed at TOM:DC

John Gluck, 8 years old and going into 3rd grade, John was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was in Kindergarten.

(Project 1) Team Elevator Button - John’s parents Charles and Jennifer installed an elevator in their house so John would have an easier time moving around. But as time goes on, it is becoming more challenging for John to push the elevator buttons. Together with a team of Makers from Booze Allen Hamilton Consulting Firm, they created a voice activated system to activate the elevator without violating the elevator warranty.  

Makers: Anand Pardeep, Arjun Pardeep, Thomas Muse and Jonathan Constantinies.

(Project 2) Team Active Shelves - Max Painley, 21, and Noam Platt, 26, formed a team to address John’s mobility needs, Painley is a senior at James Madison University studying engineering, with a minor in robotics, and Platt works as a healthcare designer in Lafitte, Louisiana. John uses a wheelchair and cannot reach much beyond his lap. This means that more often than not, he has to ask for help when he wants to reach for something. And so they came up with the idea of an accessible shelf: a system of shelves that would go up and down to the right height, and then slide out for John to reach into. The team is planning to continue this design and make it voice activated!

Makers: Noam Platt, Max Painly, and Fred Briggs

Read more:

Team Paper Towel Grabber -  Mana Momen, from Ashburn, Va., is a graduate student at George Mason University studying human factors and applied cognition. She was part of a team building a prosthetic hand for Jordan Reeves, 10, from Columbia, Mo. Jordan was born with a left arm that stops just above the elbow. For Jordan, she finds it challenging to pull paper towels from dispensers when her hand is wet. The team took on this challenge and really ran with it. They made a cuff that would wrap around Jordan’s arm, then worked with a GoPro mount so that they could screw on a modified selfie stick to the cuff. The selfie stick would serve as Jordan forearm, and at the end of the selfie stick various contraptions are attached to perform different tasks. They made a clipper that would help Jordan grab and pull paper towels, a backscratcher to get those elusive itches, and even something to hold playing cards with.

Makers: Mana Momen, Jade Garrett and Tony

Check out Jordan’s mom’s blog:

(Project 1) Air Tube Team - Judy uses a portable oxygen tank. Generally users are given about 15 meters of tubing, allowing them to walk around comfortably (this is great for walking around the house). Sometimes the tubing gets caught on an object resulting in the nasal cannula being pulled out - which can be painful and hazardous. Erica, Nick, and Sarah sat together with Judy and designed a magnetic connector midway through the tubing so when caught, the tubing will separate and Judy can comfortably re-attach.

Makers: Erica Kane, Nick Sipes, and Sarah Pickford

(Project 2) Team Air Flow Button - This team created a remote for a portable oxygen tank to increase or decrease the airflow.

Makers: Jessica Hott, Heather Button, Daniel Slaski, Becky Button and John Button

Holo Lens Team - Holo Lens is the newest Microsoft Augmented Reality System with less than 5000 released around the world - it’s set to hit the market in a year and a half. Steven cannot hear from his left ear and was looking for a way to identify sounds in his surroundings. The Holo Lens Team, developed software that uses sound recognition to alert Steven about what the sound is and where it is coming from. It is exciting to see this new product being used to help people with disabilities.

Makers:  James Ethan Fayne, Vinay Pai, Sam Winkelstein, Michael Barbine

Mobile Device Holder Team - Ian is a Maker and a Need Knower. He lost a leg from health complications and uses a motorized wheelchair. A few months ago Ian created an add-on connecting his phone to the wheelchair battery so he could charge his phone on the go. Ian was our most dedicated Maker at TOM:DC and was onsite for the full 72 hours; he was the go-to volunteer for anything anyone needed help with. Ian worked with Kathryn, who has CP to design a cell phone case that she can easily hold in her hand. 

Maker: Ian

3D Printed Hand, Aesthetic Prosthetic Team  - Using the e-NABLE design, Jade and Maria created two hands for a young veteran that lost her hand when she was in the military. Maria is a scout leader who drove in from Maine with girls to take part in the Makeathon. 


Meet the Makeathon Organizers: Bo Pollett, Brian Jacoby, and Fred Briggs

Thank you to the TOM:DC partners:

View Event →
TOM:Vietnam 2016
to Jun 5

TOM:Vietnam 2016

UNICEF, the United States Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, the Israel Economic and Trade Mission, Fablab Saigon and the Disability Research Capacity Development (DRD) led a coalition of public and private organizations implementing TOM:Vietnam.

The first TOM Makeathon in Vietnam connected children living with disabilities with multi-disciplinary teams of Makers, designer and developers to develop technological solutions for their everyday challenges.

This is stories of 7 children with disabilities that were chosen to take part in TOM:Vietnam in the Spring of 2016. These are their dreams, their desires for a normal life where they can happily play, study, and integrate into society.


Meet Tam.

When you first meet Tam, his bright eyes and smiling face capture your attention. He’s a smart 6th grader with a lot of potential. But, when you glance down, you’ll notice his severely deformed legs. Tam has overcome many challenges in his short life, he’s unable to walk and suffers from other health complications, Tam has been on the receiving end of endless bullying and isolation.

Every afternoon, Tam’s father takes him to school and carries him up to the 2nd floor classroom. But on days that he is too busy, Tam stays at home. His grandmother isn’t strong enough to carry him and his mother cannot afford to take off work. Their family survives on a scant supermarket wage and by selling odd and ends.

Tam spends his evenings studying. “When his grandfather was alive, he helped Tam study. Thanks to this support, Tam became very good at schooling. He received many 'excellent student' certificates from the school. Last year, his grandfather passed away. Ever since, he just studies alone.” shared Tam’s grandmother.

Tam has a dream, “I want to become a doctor in order to cure everyone. I will heal my grandmother, myself, and many other people.”

The first step to making Tam’s dream come true, is by making sure Tam can easily get to school.

SOLUTION: Tam's team of Makers designed leg splints and crutches to help Tam walk independently. [View Project]

Meet My.

My is 9 years-old with a smile always on her face and carefully braided hair. Like girls her age, she loves drawing and practicing her handwriting.

Since birth, she has had difficulties moving her heels and left hand. Daily routines are daily challenges. From such a young age, she suffered tremendously from the pain of trying to fully extend her heels or hand. Since her first painful steps, My has been fighting strongly and persistently to overcome her disabilities.

Her burning dream, which is shared by her family, is to have a stretching device or tool to help her balance on her feet. Likewise, she will gain confidence and strength to lead a healthy normal life.

SOLUTION: My's team of Makers designed new technology similar to crutches or a walker that can rest under her forearms and support her to walk. [View Project]

Meet An.

Always friendly and says hello to everyone, An can also be shy when meeting new people.

Only 17 years old, An is exhibiting early stage symptoms of ALS, he cannot walk because of weakness in his legs. He uses an iron skeleton and wheelchair to support his body.  

Since childhood, An has also suffered from convulsions in his right arm, making it difficult for him to hold anything. His other arm is not strong enough to keep things balanced. This disadvantage exacerbates his disabilities as only one side of his body can stay stable.

With all his challenges, An is a very sociable and positive child. His Mom shared: “He always tries to do everyday activities on his own until he can’t make it, then he ask for support from us [his parents]. He is always aware of trying to be independent and to actively overcome challenges.”  

SOLUTION: An's team of Makers designed fiberglass splints for his legs and feet with an electric joint to help support his ankle. [View Project]

Meet Hoai.

Hoai was born in Ca Mau, but moved as a child to Thi Nghe to study at the Center for Children with Disabilities. He’s happy, sociable, and extremely talkative.

His right arm isn’t very flexible and his fingers have stiffened and sometimes convulse. Just a simple movement like holding a bowl, cup or even bottle of water takes a lot of energy to not let it drops.

Although living with disability, Hoai still stays positive and is a talented artist. When the TOM:Vietnam team visited him, he eagerly drew pictures of them. The pencil was shaking in his hand making it difficult for him. But with time and patience, he drew lovely sketches of their faces.

Hoai always dreamed of having a way to support his hands so he can hold things he needs more easily.

SOLUTION: Hoai's team of Makers designed exoskeleton glove with metal fingers to help him control and move his hands, each finger individually. [View Project]

Meet Nhi.

Nhi is a 17 year-old girl born in Dong Nai Province. When she was born, her parents were told that she would never see anything.

Her family life is difficult. She was brought in Thien An Shelter in Tan Phu District. In the shelter, she lives, learns, and grows with other children in similar circumstances.

Her walking stick helps her to detect objects from a distance. However, she feels that current products available do not fully support her situation.

Nhi dreams of a way she can detect objects from long distance (+2 meters) and heights (above her waistline). This will help her a lot in living independently and integrating into society more easily.

SOLUTION: Nhi's team of Makers designed a sensor hat and sensors she could place on her clothes that could sense objects above her waistline. [View Project]

Meet Phuong Uyen.

This is the hardest case brought to TOM:Vietnam.  Phuong Uyen is beautiful little 4-year old girl. But unfortunately, she was born with physical disabilities and severe cerebral palsy. Her limbs are very weak and she’s unable to move. She can’t control her head and neck which caused spinal deformity. She can’t sit, self feed, or walk. She has to completely depend on her mom and grandmother.

At the age of 4, she is supposed to be exploring the world around her, testing limits. But she only knows “the world” in the 4 walls of her house. Her mother sadly shared, ”Uyen really wants to go out. If I [mother] don’t carry her out, she will shout and cry. But after carrying her for a long time, she gets hurt because it causes bad blood circulation situation and bruises on her limbs. I’m also too busy doing house chores to take her out frequently.”

Uyen’s family wishes there was a chair that would be suitable to support her spine, adjust its size (height, width) for her growth, be flexible for different usage, and be made from a material that would provide good air circulation for extended sitting.

SOLUTION: Uyen's team of Makers designs a special wheelchair that can support her body and expand as she grows. [View Project]

Meet Phuong.

Phuong is nearly 16 years old and is living with severe autism. Talking to Phuong’s parents, it’s impossible to grasp the full extent of challenges they face. What he knows about this beautiful life are merely  basic needs like eating, drinking and daily hygienes.

At the core, one of his greatest challenge is his inability to communicate his feelings, wants and needs to the people around him. To communicate with Phuong, his parents taught him to make letters, sentences and special signs by tearing papers. Phuong can also make stuttering sounds of “eat” or “water”, and can sometimes count from 1 to 10.

When asked about his ability to express higher needs such as listening to music, watching movies, swimming or playing outside, his mother answered with disappointment that if Phuong himself wants to experience the outside world, he cannot express his thoughts to other people.

Phuong is completely dependent. His parents are never free from worries. Everything he does must be supervised and aided.

Phuong’s family doesn’t have access to communication devices that are commonplace in the developed world. “Feeling sad, he often cries to himself. Sometimes,  he screamed his heart out in vain. If only there was a device that can help him communicate 50% better, our life would be so much happier,” shared his mother.

SOLUTION: Phuong's team of Makers designs a communication application so he can select and communicate his thoughts, needs, and feelings. [View Project]

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8:30 AM08:30


miniTOM:Alyn - A Good Deeds Day event by TOM: Tikkun Olam Makers, Ruach Tova and Alyn Hospital, was a 12-hour event whose goal was to develop products which respond to problems faced by people with special needs.

During the event, participants from the world of industry and ‘making’ worked together with people with special needs, in order to design products to address challenges defined by patients of the hospital.

95 participants took part in the miniMakeathon, including makers, engineers, designers, programmers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and doctors from organizations such as Alyn Hospital, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Intel, Cisco, Hansen FabLab, Jerusalab, Hadassa College, etc. 

Projects completed at TOM:ALYN

Ponytail: How can Tamar tie her hair up in a pony tail with her one functioning hand? The team of engineers from IAI developed two solutions:

  1. A vacuum cleaner tube which gathers the hair, followed by pressing a button which releases an elastic band which ties up the hair.
  2. An elastic strap which sits around the neck and can be pulled up like a head band. When the ends are pulled the hair is tied into a pony tail.

Folding crutches: How can crutches be stored so that they won’t get in kids’ way when travelling on the train, or disturb other passengers? The team of engineers from IAI cut the crutches and re-attached them like tent poles which can be easily folded away.

Mobile phone holder: How can Matan use his phone comfortably while it rests on his leg? The team 3D-printed an adjustable phone stand, which was attached to his leg with a comfortable fabric strap.

Simon Says: How can a child paralyzed from the neck down communicate and play with his brothers just by moving his head? The team created Simon’s Game, which is based on remembering colors, is connected to the child’s head with an arduino board and movement sensors, so that he can play simply by moving his head.

Toilet booster seat: How can you get around easily, simply and aesthetically with a toilet booster seat? The team came up with the following options:

  1. Use folding sponges
  2. Use bottles with concertina folds
  3. A seat built like a camping chair from folding metal

Hand Rest: How can we make it easier for children with muscular atrophy in their hands, following period without using a hand rest or splint? The team designed an extra layer for a hand rest which is soft and can be adjusted as needed, which gives support to the hand.

Grabber Hand: How can Ella, who has limited motor skills, use a keyboard for her studies? The team put together a mouth-operated stick which has a 3D-printed pointer on the end, which can press keys on the keyboard. This product is an upgrade of a product which was developed at TOM:San Francisco.

Hand tremor: How can Oz eat and write, despite his hand tremor? The team built him a glove which includes a skeleton which cancels out the tremor. This product is an upgrade of a product which was developed at TOM:TLV.

Head rest: How can we provide head support without using a specialized wheelchair? The team built a head rest connected to a vest which can be worn by the child.

Pool game: How can we make hydrotherapy treatments more pleasurable for children, and teach them to dive into the pool? The team created a game with waterproof lights and switches which are sunk across the pool. Engineers and programmers from Cisco took part in this project.


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