Teams brainstormed access technology solutions during a workshop at Rochester Institute of Technology. Seven groups presented innovative ideas to industry partners at RIT Access Technology IdeaLab.

Photo credit: RIT

Students and faculty coaches representing a variety of disciplines spent a weekend in November brainstorming solutions to problems impacting individuals with differing abilities. The interactive two-day workshop featured hands-on teamwork brainstorming meetings, Q&A sessions and presentations to clients and participating organizations. The student teams were coached by volunteers from RIT faculty and alumni and community organizations.

Following research of user needs, target market characteristics, business requirements and technological possibilities, students created conceptual solutions to the problems. IdeaLab is hosted by the Albert J. Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“IdeaLab is designed to link unique problems and challenges with creative and technical problem solvers here at RIT,” said Dan Harel, adjunct professor of industrial design at RIT and IdeaLab lead. “The direct interaction and their personal stories made the clients problems even more real and approachable for the student teams.”

Student teams were asked to design:

  • A robust, low cost, collapsible, repairable wheelchair solution that can withstand rough terrain in Rwanda and provide disabled children a better chance to attend school.
  • An orthotic device for individuals with hemi-dystonia that will enable them to walk properly.
  • An assistive golf cart to help disabled individuals regain optimal posture for use with conventional golf clubs.
  • A remote-controlled breaking function for disabled cyclists who may have unpredictable reaction times and braking abilities.
  • A safe wheelchair lift that stabilizes individuals who rely on walkers and have difficulty entering transport vehicles.
  • A manual stander designed for use by individuals with one arm.
  • A slide designed for children that will enable them to be safe whether they are in a sitting position facing forward or on their stomachs facing forward.