Great talk by John Schimmel of DIYAbility on how individuals with disabilities are overcoming their challenges to enjoy the everyday things. I love their slogan “Where MacGyver meets Assistive Technology”
For those of you interested. MAPLE DW – Matrix Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation Direct Write is a way of using laser beam to “fleck” off the underside coating of a transparent sheet onto a bottom sheet. It’s like using carbon copy paper but instead of a pen, you use a laser beam, and instead of carbon you can use fancy materials like gold, cells, or biologicals. Then you write with those substances at a microscopic level. So far, I’m trying to see if we can pull this off with the laser cutter. We’re not sure if we can pull this off with the laser cutter.
In partnership with the BMW Guggenheim Lab, we’re setting up an PULSE stations around metropolitan environments, starting with Berlin. PULSE — Personal Urban Life and Sensor Environments — are a response to the lack of affordable, personal biosensors beyond pedometers. The surge in quantified self bracelets and patches has been great, but most of the people that I’ve met with a QS bracelet already look fit and prosperous. What about everyone else who can’t afford to splurge $200 on a wearable sensor? Sure, you can download a 99 cent health tracking app. While the digital version of a pocket food diary works for many people, there’s a lot to gain from understanding how your body is actually doing, and that’s where biosensors come in.
The science fiction author William Gibson said “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Well, this is our attempt at evening things out. (Under construction!)
Inside the PULSE station, visitors find an array of biosensors related to everyday health in urban environments. We’ve had 25 cents public scales for a long time, followed up by sit down blood pressure stations at pharmacy chains. In many cases, these are the only times people will have their blood pressure taken except for that rare doctor visit or in the case of certain healthcare systems, a more frequent visit to the emergency room. So we’ve decided to the take the idea a step further and allow users to interact with a biosensor arcade inside our PULSE stations.
We are prototyping some setups to be able to capture data of 7-segment displays (think LCD watch) that come in major medical devices such as glucometers and blood pressure cuffs. One way of obtaining the data is by cracking open the unit and sniffing out the electronic feeds. Another way is by purchasing units that already do this. Most of those types of machines don’t share the data openly though. So last night, our lab neighbor, Shane Colton suggested that we could use a webcam and image recognition software.
I like this idea and we’ll be implementing in the next few days. We’re looking for a few brave OpenCV experts to help.
Why do this? Because it takes legacy systems
Make Magazine’s Ultimate Kit Guide featured our MEDIKit platform in an article we wrote called “‘Design for Hack’ in Medicine”. What does this mean? Imagine a design philosophy that embraces transparent designs and leverages points in a device to guide how it gets modified by users. That’s the essence of our Design for Degrees of Freedom practice at the Little Devices group. Make allowed us to expand on the model and show real world examples in action.
Places like Nicaragua have some of the poorest areas on the continent. But what about Nebraska? What about healthcare at home? For years, health technology has been shielded from tinkering and DIY invention because of the perceived barriers to entry: you’re not a doctor, you’re not a biomedical engineer, you require professional supervision. Health equipment has to be safe and rigorously tested, first and foremost.
Medical invention kits have the potential to lower many of these barriers and put health hacking back into the hands of users and of patients — the people who have the most to gain from affordable and elegant innovations. As the developing world gets a head start on DIY medical technologies, we’ll see many of those user-generated inventions make their way back to richer countries.
More at Make
So the challenge in Ocotal, Nicaragua was to make an IV alarm using locally available materials. Toys were abundant, cheap, and easily hackable. The video says it best.