SAN FRANCISCO, March 18 (Xinhua) -- A three-day technology-building marathon, or makethon, has been launched at the University of California, Berkeley, to create devices that help people with disabilities overcome everyday challenges.
Nearly 100 innovators, makers, students and people with disabilities are expected to join the the event, called TOM:Berkeley, starting from Friday at both Jacobs Hall and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) Invention Lab at UC Berkeley.
TOM:Berkeley is an event from the Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) community, which is a global movement of makers, designers, developers and innovators who try to solve challenges faced by people living with disabilities worldwide. Similar events will take place at three other college campuses, all with the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, which was named after a Jewish philanthropist.
The maker movement efforts stem from reality that more than a billion people live with disabilities worldwide and face challenges that hinder independence and inclusion, and from facts that technologies could be developed to overcome these challenges, but that development faces challenges of its own, such as small market size, which limits commercialization and drives up prices for existing commercial products.
At the Berkeley event, participants will use equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, water jet cutters and electronics fabricators to build physical prototypes of their technologies. The teams will have 48 hours to create a working prototype.
"TOM:Berkeley introduces new ways to create affordable technologies by connecting people in need with local volunteers with different backgrounds and skill sets, and then providing the support and structure to facilitate development," said Rebecca Fuhrman, TOM's Architect of Inspiration.
The closing event is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, when participants will showcase their prototypes at Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation.
"As a mechanical engineering student and quadriplegic due to spinal cord injury, I am very excited to bring a TOM Community to UC Berkeley and engage my peers in an impactful way," Drew McPherson, a TOM:Berkeley organizer and UC Berkeley student, was quoted as saying in a news release from the school. "I see so much skill and potential amongst my fellow students and see so many activities that my friends and I in the disability community struggle with or simply cannot do because no functional or affordable solution exists. By bringing these communities together, many of these challenges can be addressed with local community members."