When Google.Org joined forces with the three-letter acronym groups TOM & UCP, a new future was forged for people with disabilities. Regardless of the practical product to come out of the makeathon - the fact that Google is in the game makes a massive impact - there's a mind-shift for the marginalized as their issues become the subject of committed efforts from the mainstream - and that alone makes our collective world better.
Led by an all-star judging panel that included Tom Chi (former head of product experience at GoogleX), Dale Dougherty (CEO, Maker Media), Jonathan Jaglom (CEO, Makerbot), Anupam Pathak (creator of LiftLabs and now part of the Google Life Sciences team), the 72 hour challenge was constructed around the powerful narrative of "What if"
WHAT IF there was a way for people on crutches or walkers to safely carry around drinks without spilling them?
WHAT IF there was an adaptive technology that could allow people with disabilities to safely participate in adventure sports like rafting, kayaking, or canoeing?
WHAT IF there was an assistive device that allowed children in wheelchairs to “kick” a ball by pushing a button so that they can engage in sports with their able-bodied friends?
WHAT IF Google Glass could give those who can’t speak or type the ability to express themselves in real time?
WHAT IF there was a way to understand exactly how medications taken affect the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease so that the drugs’ benefits are maximized?
WHAT IF there was a solution that enabled female wheelchair users to relieve themselves cleanly, safely and comfortably, reducing the need to transfer in and out of their wheelchairs?
WHAT IF there were thin stickers with sensors on a wheelchair’s seat to map out the pressure points then send the data to your smartphone to prevent pain, pressure sores, and other health risks? (a Google.org innovation award winner!)
The potential products prototyped over the three days now have the opportunity to become projects on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com, where contributions will be matched by Google.org donations to facilitate fast-tracking commercial solutions.