TOM:Berkeley 2017
Mar 19

TOM:Berkeley 2017

The 72 hour event will take place at Jacobs Hall in Berkeley between March 17th-19th. We will meet at 4:00 pm and finish with a closing ceremony at 4:00 pm on the last day (Mar. 19th). The Pre TOM event will take place in Berkeley, on Feb. 24th from 5:00-8:00 pm. Mark your calendars!

PreTOM will take place a month before the TOM Makeathon. This is where you will choose your team and start to work on the challenge. Mark your calendar: 5:00 pm on Feb. 24th. Attendance is highly recommended. If you are unable to attend, please let us know as soon as possible.

TOM:Holon 2017
Mar 31

TOM:Holon 2017

The 48 hour event will take place at the Fablabil in Holon between March 29th-31st. We will meet at 14:00 and finish with a closing ceremony at 14:00 on the last day (March 31st). The Pre TOM event will take place at the Eliezer, Holon Young Adults Center , on March 14 from 19:00-22:00. Mark your calendars!

PreTOM will take place two weeks before the TOM Makeathon. This is where you will choose your team and start to work on the challenge. Mark your calendar: 7:00 pm on March 14 . Attendance is highly recommended. If you are unable to attend, please let us know as soon as possible.

TOM:Bulgaria 2017
Apr 22

TOM:Bulgaria 2017

Търсим решения на човешки проблеми.

Има много хора със специални нужди. Ние искаме да идентифицираме тези нужди и да произведем технологичните решения, които ще помогнат на хората. За целта ни трябваш ти.

Осигуряваме техника за производство на прототипи: машини за лазерно рязане, 3D принтери, стругове и всичко нужно, но търсим екипи, които да свършат истинската работа.

Та, ако:

1. искаш да помогнеш да направим света по-достъпен - подкрепи кампанията ни за набиране на средства тук - 

2. познаваш хора, способни да измислят технологични решения за хора със специални нужди или да подкрепят каузата – сподели страницата,

3. можеш да помогнеш за изработването на прототип - запиши се за събитието:

4. имаш информация за специална нужда на определен човек, за която искаш да се измисли решение – отправи предизвикателство към екипите:

Това е инициатива за всички, в която почти всички идеи са добре дошли :)

Самото събитие, на което ще се произвеждат прототипите, ще се проведе от 20.04 до 23.04 април в сградата на

Повече информация за него очаквайте в събитието, което скоро ще публикуваме.

Благодарим ти за съдействието и добрата воля и винаги сме насреща за повече информация в чата,

Екипът на ТОМ:Bulgaria.

TOM:NYC 2017
Apr 23

TOM:NYC 2017

The 3 Day event will take place at New Lab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, April 21st-23rd. We will meet at 10:00AM and finish with a closing ceremony at 3:00PM on the last day.

The PreTOM event will take place at CornellTech, 111 8th Avenue, New York, NY on March 24th at 12:00noon. This is where you will choose your team and start to work on the challenge. Attendance is highly recommended. If you are unable to attend, please let us know as soon as possible.

TOM:TAU 2017
Apr 28

TOM:TAU 2017

TAU Engineering Alumni is proud to host TOM:TAU ENGINEERING.

In just 48 hours, we’ll develop technological solutions for everyday challenges facing people in the elderly population. The Makeathon brings together people who understand the needs, ‘Need Knowers’ and ‘Makers’, engineers, designers and developers. We’ll provide a space for innovation and prototyping – you create the solutions. 

Assistive Technology designed at a TOM Makeathon is open source and available to free download on the Open Makers Market.

Join a community of people making a difference, impacting the lives of others.

TOM:UCI 2017
Apr 30

TOM:UCI 2017

The 72 hour event will take place at the UCI School of Engineering between April 28th-30th. We will meet at 9:00AM and finish with a closing ceremony at 5:00PM on the last day (Apr. 30th). The Pre TOM event will take place during the first weekend of April. Mark your calendars!
PreTOM will take place a month before the TOM Makeathon. This is where you will choose your team and start to work on the challenge. Mark your calendar: first weekend of April. Attendance is highly recommended. If you are unable to attend, please let us know as soon as possible.

TOM:Kazakhstan 2017
Oct 12

TOM:Kazakhstan 2017

*Planning in process - dates may change!

Stay updated on the latest news or help organize locally by contacting

TOM:Barcelona 2017
Oct 14

TOM:Barcelona 2017

TOM:Barcelona coming up soon! Interested in getting involved? E-mail

TOM:Israel 2017
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.

TOM:Philips 2016
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.

TOM:Melbourne 2016
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

miniTOM:Exponential Medicine
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:

TOM:Buenos Aires 2016
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)

TOM:Calgary 2016
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

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. 

TOM:DC 2016
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:

TOM:Vietnam 2016
Jun 5

TOM:Vietnam 2016

  • Vietnam

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]