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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.

Earlier Event: December 21
TOM:Philips 2016
Later Event: February 1
TOM:IAI Developer Groups