A team of students from Cornell Tech developed an app that makes it easy to find wheelchair accessible vehicles nearby. A team of students from Cornell Tech developed an app that makes it easy to find wheelchair accessible vehicles nearby. A team of students from Cornell Tech developed an app that makes it easy to find wheelchair accessible vehicles nearby. (Photo: TOM Global)

72-hour makeathon leads to groundbreaking tech for disabled

From one-handed video game remotes to wheelchair accessible Ubers, these innovations are sure to make a difference.

If you put 160 engineers, designers and innovators into a room for 72 hours, you're likely to get something to write home about when it's all said and done.

Problem solvers from the United States, Canada, England, China, India, Sri Lanka and Israel just took part in a three-day “Makeathon” event at the Technion Institute in Israel, one of the most innovative universities in the world. Their goal was to work together with 20 people with disabilities to develop technological solutions for their everyday challenges.

More than a dozen new inventions were created during the marathon event. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Chair Call an app to call a wheelchair to your bedside or back out of the way, clearing space for visitors.
  • Coffee Break – a Rube Goldberg-like coffee maker for people with hand tremors.
  • Ride Sharing - an app that connects people with disabilities to wheelchair accessible vehicles on Zipcar and Uber.
  • One Hand Sony – a device to hold the PlayStation hand control and play with one hand.
  • Plane Seat Assistance – an in-flight supportive vest, neck brace and leg support for a child with cerebral palsy.

This invention allows someone to only use one hand on a video game control.The team designed a leg anchor so users can reach all functionality on the video game remote with one hand. (Photo: TOM Global)

The Israel event was co-sponsored by a number of organizations including Google, Intel, WeWork and AT&T. The Ruderman Family Foundation, which is working to help disabled actors in Hollywood, was also involved as was Beit Issie Shapiro, a nonprofit specializing in distributing technology to the disabled.

Many of the inventions were made using 3D printers courtesy of MakerBot and their parent company Stratasys, a global leader in the industry. With dual headquarters in both the United States and Israel, they have been at the forefront of this technological revolution. They've been involved in everything from dental implants to Academy Award-nominated movies. They've even made a 3D-printed heart to help save a little girl's life.

This conveyor belt coffee maker pours itself to help those with tremors.This conveyor belt coffee maker pours itself to help those with tremors. (Photo: TOM Global)

These events have been going on around the world for a few years now. Upcoming Makeathons will be taking place in New York, Bulgaria and Barcelona. Here are some highlights from a recent one in San Francisco:

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