Editor’s Note: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual America’s Small Business Summit starts next week in Washington. Check back each day this week for summit previews and speaker interviews, and follow along next week via the ASBS homepage and the Twitter hashtag #IAmSmallBiz for updates and live-stream events.
Entrepreneur Elliot Kotek is helping change the world through Not Impossible Labs, a tech startup he co-founded in 2009. The company uses crowd sourcing to solve global health and mobility issues by developing and providing low-cost technology to people in need.
“The key is everyone can do something to help others,” Kotek said, who will speak at America’s Small Business Summit next week in Washington. “There is no barrier to entry anymore thanks to the internet.”
Here are some of the startup’s most groundbreaking and innovative technologies that are making a big difference around the world:
Securing prosthetics can be an expensive, arduous endeavor for many people in developed nations, but for those living in war-torn countries with little money and poor infrastructure, it can seem almost impossible.
Impossible, that is, until 2013, when Not Impossible developers created open-source software that produces more affordable prosthetics using 3D printers.
The 3D software is named after Daniel Omar, a then-14 year old Sudanese boy who lost his hands in a bombing incident and was one of the first people to wear 3D-printed limbs.
The plastic prosthetics take approximately six hours to print, and though they aren’t as sophisticated as other high-end products on the market (both finger movement and range is limited with the device) they provide those in need with the ability to perform simple tasks, such as feeding and bathing themselves.
The Eyewriter, one of the organization’s most renowned projects, was released in 2008 and created for famed LA graffiti artist Tony ‘TEMPT’ Quan, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) in 2003.
The device uses relatively low-cost eye-tracking glasses and open-source software that lets Quan draw—and even control a virtual paintbrush—using a series of blinks and eye movement.
Later, after Quan’s diagnosis had progressed and left him unable to blink fast enough to use the tool, Not Impossible created a new device called the Brainwriter that uses similar technology found in the Eyewriter, but instead relies on EEG sensors. It allows Tempt, and others who suffer from locked-in syndromes, to communicate using a combination of brainwaves and slower eye movements via a smart skull cap.
Inspired by ALS patient Don Moir, Don’s Voice is a special keyboard and eye tracker—similar to what video game players use now—that lets those with physical disabilities speak without ever having to lift a finger.
The keyboard was specifically created to mimic a homemade letter board Moir’s wife made that contained four letters per quadrant and required him to painstakingly choose each individual letter in order to form sentences.
The new device created by Not Impossible now requires Moir to simply glance at the letter he desires and predicative text will intuitively help him speak.
For more on Elliot Kotek and how his company is changing the world visit freeenterprise.com/Elliot-Kotek-summit