This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 23, 2015

Creating Solutions for Neglected Problems

TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers) is a global movement of makers who use design and technology to address the special needs of people living with disabilities. Loosely translated, Tikkun Olam means, "however repair". TOM brings together innovators in technology and engineering to design assistive devices for people with disabilities.

Sponsors who want to make a profound difference
TOM engages local and international sponsors to create Hackathons, events where software and hardware developers intensively collaborate on projects to solve problems for people with disabilities at work and in the community. Though TOM hackathons began in Israel, they are now held all over the world. Most recently, along with Makerbot, one of the top companies in 3D printing,, sponsored an event in San Francisco. is the philanthropic arm of Google. It supports innovative approaches to tackling the world’s biggest challenges. This year the group has taken on the challenge to expand opportunity and increase independence for people with disabilities.

Teams at Makeathons hack the future by creating solutions that really work
Less than two weeks ago, TOM mounted the Bay Area Makeathon. During its three-day makeathons, TOM brings together engineers, programmers, designers, makers, and people with disabilities to rapidly prototype extremely affordable solutions. TOM directs innovation to the places where the most impact can be created. The makers are given a complete supply of materials, machines, and even food, so that they may concentrate on creating these groundbreaking solutions. At the end of the 72 hours, the teams present their projects to a panel of judges. The judges then match teams with the most promising prototypes to prizes that will enable them to take their next steps towards production.

Real products for real people
TOM hackathons have produced some fantastic innovations to assist people with disabilities. Among these products are Internet-of-things Crutches that capture data for walking efficiency, the Ultrasight hat for assisting the visually impaired, and the Stair Climbing Walker that rotates to allow the user to safely climb steps. Check out the YouTube videos for more information

Harnessing the power of collaboration
Expect to see many more of these kinds of collaborations, as humans come together to create solutions to solve some of the world's toughest problems. Perhaps Peter Diamandis is right; we can use an "abundance" of brainpower and innovation to tackle the greatest challenges faced by humankind. If only we could use that same power of collaboration to end war?

Attend a local TOM event or join the online community. Special thanks to Cornell University's Employer Practices Rehabilitation Research & Training Center for bringing TOM to our attention.

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