MakerBot Thingiverse, a 3-D design community, recently announced a mouth-operated mouse as the winner of its Assistive Technology Challenge. The Assistive Technology Challenge invited Thingiverse community members to create 3-D printed devices for people with disabilities. The challenge received more than 170 submissions.
The mouth-operated mouse was created by Tobias Wirtl to help people with physical disabilities use the Internet. Wirtl’s goal for the mouse was a cost-effective design.
“There are many new technologies that people with disabilities cannot access, and in my opinion, everyone should be able to benefit from today’s media, especially the Internet,” Wirtl said in a press release. “That is why I decided to create a device that would allow people to navigate the web. Products like these sell for hundreds of dollars. I created this one with one 3-D printer and about $20 worth of commonly available components.”
The mouth-operated mouse uses a mouthpiece, which works like a joystick, to move the cursor. The right mouse button is activated when the user pushes the mouthpiece toward the case, while the left button is activated by a sensor when the user sucks air through the mouse.
A mouth-operated mouse won first place in the Thingiverse Assistive Technology Challenge.
The system uses a microcontroller and can be connected to most computers via USB.
The second place award-winner is a 3-D printable wheelchair for people who live in developing nations. The wheelchair is comprised of 3-D printed parts, plywood and zip ties, and uses household items, like socks and flour bags, for cushioning.
The third place award-winner is a starter kit for assistive devices for assistive dogs. The kit includes a 3-D printable switch paddle, a doorknob puller and a set of scent-coded training fobs that make it easier for dogs to distinguish between multiple targets in a cluttered environment.
“Each time we hold a MakerBot Thingiverse Challenge, we are amazed by the things people create,” Nadav Goshen, president of MakerBot, said. “We’d like to thank everyone who participated in this challenge, and we encourage people to continue to create and expand upon these designs to empower even more people around the world who have disabilities.”