Enable Makeathon Challenge enters final stage

Over the last one month, makers from across India and abroad have been busy with a unique project: To develop assistive devices that would innovatively address the mobility challenges of the physically challenged. Seventeen teams shortlisted will now move on to the final round of the Enable Makeathon challenge, an initiative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its partners. 

Spread across two months, the programme is all about making products that can be scaled up for wider use. Thirty maker teams with expertise in technology, design, disability and mentorship have been lined up to create these devices. Among the teams are a few, online and offline, from India, Mexico, United States, Australia, United Kingdom and Portugal.

The teams had participated in a Business Bootcamp at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) on December 18,  where they were brought face to face with the challenges of being entrepreneurs and helped with their business plans. They received insights from experts on how best to take their products to end-users once they have finalised their prototypes.

The devices are aimed at helping persons with disabilities to perform activities of daily living, regain mobility, maintain posture, and access employment opportunities, among others. Incidentally, this is the first such initiative in the disability sector.

One of the projects is “Project Lincoln.” This team is working on creating a prototype for an exoskeleton that will be controlled by measuring muscle activity by detecting its electric potential. The exoskeleton will be semi-autonomous, initiated by the user and taken over by the machine.

Abhijeet Khandagale, who is part of the project, said his uncle’s temporary disability had made him conceptualise the exoskeleton. “My uncle was confined to complete bed rest for two months after a whole hip replacement surgery. His condition made me wonder if any device can be made that could be sensor-based and convert even little muscle power into motor power resulting in movement,” he said. 

Among the other Indian participants are the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. At the end of the challenge, three winning teams will be given rewards to the tune of 50,000 USD on Demo Day, January 23, 2016, when these solutions will be presented to investors, incubators and NGOs.

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