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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. 

Earlier Event: April 21
TOM:NYC 2017
Later Event: April 28
TOM:UCI 2017