How A Prosthetic Forearm Can Be Built In Just 72 Hours

It’s the height of summer in Reston, VA, and mosquitos and gnats meander through the fragrant humidity outside Nova Labs. The 90 degree heat isn’t a bother, though; energized teams of makers are inside, hard at work on prototypes for inventions for differently abled people — everything from a voice-activated elevator to an augmented reality program that visualizes sounds.
At a large table littered with sketches, laptops, beverages, and half-eaten snacks, three makers discuss how to construct a new prosthetic for Jordan Reeves, an 11-year-old who was born with limb difference (her left arm ends at the elbow).
Everyone in this room has gathered at Nova Labs for a 72-hour make-a-thon event organized by TOM-Global. TOM, which stands for Tikkun Olam Makers, is an Israeli company which organizes several of these make-a-thons around the world each year in an effort to develop open-source solutions to unmet societal needs.
For Reeves, that need has to do with paper towel dispensers — specifically, the kind that require two hands to operate effectively. She wants something light and portable that will allow her to rip off a paper towel easily. Watch the above video to see how the collaborative prototyping process happens.
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