On May 30 2018, Neil Squire Society’s Makers Making Change (new window) hosted a LipSync (new window) buildathon at Moncton High School (new window) for the province’s Disability Awareness Week (new window). The event was focused around building the LipSync, a piece of assistive technology designed to allow individuals to use their smartphones, tablets or computers without the use of their hands or arms. The device translates mouth movements into cursor movements, giving users a truly hands-free option for accessing their smartphone.
And while the device itself represents an innovative direction in smartphone accessibility, the manufacturing process is just as radical, with most of the production of the LipSync taking place during events such as the buildathon that we’re talking about today. Buildathons (also known as maker faires, hackathons, maker fests, etc.) are collaborative events that are focused around building and programming technology. These events attract individuals from a wide range of skill sets from beginner to expert, with the more experienced “makers” leading the less experienced individuals.
The Moncton buildathon also saw collaboration on a community-wide level, with visitors and participants from the City of Moncton (new window), WorkSafe NB (new window), our own organization, and 36 students from Moncton High School.
This collaborative approach to the production of the LipSync also means that these devices can be produced at a significantly lower cost than in a traditional production environment. In fact, the LipSync device is completely open-source, and the exterior of the device is fabricated via 3D printer, making this device accessible to the masses in a way that is rarely seen with technology. And as 3D printing becomes more and more mainstream, so too does this technology. In fact, Moncton High is now working on establishing a maker-space with 3D printers within the school, giving students even more access to the LipSync, as well as to other 3D printed products.
This event was sponsored by Makers Making Change (new window), a new, non-profit initiative by the Neil Squire Society, funded by the Google.org (new window), the Government of Canada (new window), and the Vancouver Foundation (new window). Makers Making Change has recently launched a new website which features news, projects, and downloadable assistive technology schematics such as the LipSync device. To check out their website, click here(new window).
To see video coverage of the event, click here(new window).