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Need Knowers and Makers...

My name is Sif and I'm a Need Knower.

Wondering what the hell I'm talking about?

On Wednesday night I went to an event hosted by Swinburne University called TOM. The purpose of TOM is to bring together teams of people with a range of engineering, IT, and disability related qualifications to design technologies which will enhance the lives of people with disabilities. For this purpose, the teams have a 'need knower' who supplies a challenge for the team to solve. The need knower presents a situation in their life which they would like to change or improve, and the makers in the teams have 72 hours over a three day 'makeathon' to produce a solution.

Vision Australia is supporting the event and as such they submitted a number challenges, of which two were taken up by two teams. One of the challenges submitted by another staff member on my floor was to solve my problems with Harlem's harness being too short in different situations, and me not being able to carry two harnesses with me. Additionally, in navigating with a GPS - no GPS apps offered the micro directions walkers need. They usually require walkers to 'head south' rather than 'turn left' for example, and they can't seem to navigate with micro directions required for walking from A to B in a city.

The hope is that finding solutions to my challenges will then be able to serve people around the globe.

Cool, huh?

An adjustable harness would make a huge difference to me, as in Winter I wear shoes with heels, but in Summer I wear flats. I got Harlem in Summer, so it was a few months before I realised the harness becomes too short when I'm in heels, this puts me off balance and forces me to walk slower with smaller steps.

A micro directional GPS would mean being able to get useful directions to non-commercial or tourist attraction places.

So, last night was the initials meeting of the needs knowers and the makers where we all got together and figured out the details of the challenge. The makeathon is six weeks away and in that time we plan to meet another couple of times. Then on the weekend changing over from November to December the team will put the research into practice. I will be at the makeathon for some of the time, so they can test the solutions.

I'm pretty chuffed to able to be part of a process like this.


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