When I try to talk to peers and colleagues about the Maker Movement, one of the questions that keeps coming up over and over is what the heck this has to do with healthcare, and why am I bothering to spend my valuable time with it. So, this post has three examples illustrating the intersection of the Maker Movement with healthcare. Basically, for one of these it’s health literacy education & outreach via hands on geek project, and for the other two, there were real world problems that have expensive, time-consuming or often inaccessible solutions, for which people came up with their own solutions and alternatives. And the solutions are cool, they work, and are usually MUCH cheaper than the official solution you try to get insurance to pay for. Since not everyone has insurance, and not everyone can afford the very best possible care, I see this as a good thing. Make sure you read all the way to the end. This just gets cooler and cooler. There are more, too, this is a very small sampling, just items I stumbled over in the past couple days without even looking for them.
Have you met Sylvia? Sylvia is twelve years old, is a Maker (I’m guessing her folks probably are also), and has her own series in Make Magazine, with a really cool blog and videos. In this example, she shows people how to build a wearable technology pendant that will sense your heart beat and display the rhythm of your pulse with flashing lights in a necklace.
The Sylvia Show: Lilypad Heartbeat Pendant:
The full post at Make Magazine (Super Awesome Sylvia Builds a Pulse Sensor Pendant)
Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show: Make a Heartbeat Pendant:
I confess, at first I thought this seemed kind of staged, but there are enough close ups of her hands actually doing things like soldering, that I decided she really does know how to do the work, even if there might be assistance or advice from others for some parts.
Here’s where you can buy your own PulseSensor (which Sylvia connects to an Arduino for control):
Here Denver Dias, an undergraduate student in Mumbai India, was working to try to create a walking aid for the blind. Yes, we have walking canes and seeing eye dogs, but this extremely early prototype uses tech to create 3d maps of the surrounding area while walking. The maps are communicated to the user by a combination of tones and vibrations. The tech includes LEDs, sonar, ultrasound, and more.
Walking aid for the blind – undergrad project…
Found via Dangerous Prototypes:
Did you look at this and think it was some fancy looking glove a kid was wearing for a costume? Well, it isn’t. This is a design for kids who, for whatever reason, don’t have fingers. This open-source, freely shared pattern makes it possible for people to create their own prosthetic ‘hand’ with a 3d printer. You can resize it and tweak it. It’s called Robohand. Watch the video if you want to see some awfully happy kids. They are hoping it will also be useful for veterans.
Complete set of mechanical anatomically driven fingershttp://www.thingiverse.com/thing:44150
Updated Robohand design:
MakerBot and Robohand — 3D Printing Mechanical Hands
Via BoingBoing, NPR, and more.
3dPrinter: Donated Makerbot 3D printers accelerate distribution of Robohand mechanical hands
BoingBoing: Sponsor shout-out: Makerbot and the Robohand
MakerBot: Mechanical Hands From A MakerBot: The Magic Of Robohandhttp://www.makerbot.com/blog/2013/05/07/robohand/
NPR: 3-D Printer Brings Dexterity To Children With No Fingers
Now, if anyone still thinks that the Maker Movement lacks relevance to healthcare, I’ll go find more, but first stop and think about Jack Andraka, whose recent discovery of innovative technology to diagnose many life-threatening cancers earlier and more cheaply, seem very much in keeping with the philosophy of the Maker Movement.