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  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

Make to Care, a competition promoting innovations

  • lorenzo.deluigi
  • News

Which one of these four innovative projects convinces you the most?

The goal of the initiative Make to Care is to promote innovations that meet everyday needs and help solving practical problems of people with disabilities thus improving their quality of life. Make to Care is located in Italy and supported by Sanofi Genzyme, a department of the pharmaceutical company Sanofi.

The competition takes place every year and anybody can compete in it. Therefore, if you have an innovative idea that could serve a concrete need, you should register to participate with your project.

The competition finale takes place in Rome at the Maker Faire, a large fair where the “makers” present their inventions. This is where each year, eight competitors present their projects and the prize is awarded to the two winners. This video gives you an idea of the fair.

Below you’ll find a selection of the 37 projects that have made it into the finale since the launch of the competition in 2016. From each year, we have chosen the project that seemed most relevant to paraplegics or quadriplegics.

Io Kitchen (2016)


(Source: https://www.maketocare.it)

As you can see on the photos, this project is about a kitchenette including cook top, sink and countertop. Due to the space below the countertop and the possibility to adjust its height, the Io Kitchen is wheelchair accessible. Furthermore the table can swivel and therefore allows access to stove and sink and does therefore not require the user to move around. This allows preparing food more safely and easily. Another advantage is that the Io Kitchen is very small and therefore also suitable for small apartments. The following video shows how it works:

After their presentation as finalist of Make to Care in 2016, the two designers from Tuscany found a partner who enabled them to manufacture the kitchenette industrially. More information is available on the (Italian) Website and Facebook page of Io Kitchen.

Open Rampette (2017)

Open Rampette is a pilot project sponsored by the innovative company WeMake and the City of Milan. It is the goal to improve accessibility of stores for people with limited mobility. More specifically, Open Rampette is a system that notifies shop assistants if a customer needs a ramp to access the store.

open rampette

(Source: http://rampette.opencare.cc/)

The prototype works like this: Participating businesses have a buzzer with a project label and are also listed in the specifically developed smart phone app. The person with motor disabilities may request help from sales staff by using the buzzer at the store entrance or by sending a notification via app. Inside the store, a receiver notifies the sales staff through a light, sound or vibration signal. A shop assistant can go outside and set up a mobile ramp at the entrance.

Smart Eyes (2018)

This home automation project was developed by three students of the Polytechnic University of Turin. It is an app for smart phones that was developed for people with major motor conditions. By allowing the control of certain functions inside the home such as light, doors, heating or TV solely through their eyes, it is supposed to offer more mobility and autonomy inside their own apartment.

smart eyes

(Source: https://www.maketocare.it)

How does it work? The smart phone camera recognizes the eye movement. Due to the use of artificial intelligence that tracks the pupils and muscle movement of the eyes, the smart phone enables the users to interact with their home environment. By closing the eyes multiple times, for example, the TV channel can be switched. Of course, all of this only works if the home environment (e.g. doors, windows, TV) is “intelligent”, i.e. if it is equipped with receivers that can communicate with the smart phone. This technology has partially been developed by the students and partially by Apple.

Unfortunately, the fact that the project website does no longer exist may be an indication that the app was not a success.

EasyEM (2019)


(Source: https://www.easyemisfero.com)

EasyEM is a clothing company that produces apparel for people with limited mobility in the upper limbs. Due to a smart system, the clothes can be put on and the zipper can be closed with one hand only. The project was selected for the Make to Care finale in 2019 and the products are now available on the market. The label offers personal and customized services. More information on EasyEM and their apparel is available on their (Italian) website and on Facebook.

What are your thoughts about these four projects? Which one seems practical to you and which one not so much?

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