Glasses to make life easier for people with paralysis
Daniel Cuartas has developed a visual device that allows people with paralysis to become more independent
When Daniel Cuartas‘ grandmother suffered a stroke, her grandson decided to use what he had learned during his first two years studying mechatronics to try to improve her quality of life. At the time, he knew that there were already devices that helped people with reduced mobility, but he remembers these were not available to him: “We didn’t have a high income and couldn’t access them.
Not satisfied with this situation, he decided to apply his own knowledge to design a device that would allow his grandmother to be more self-sufficient. He began researching open source projects and shared knowledge and ended up building a camera that followed the pupil and let his grandmother perform basic tasks: turn on the bedroom light, the television or communicate with other people.
This was the origin of a larger project that allows people with reduced mobility to communicate, surf the Internet and become more independent. It was clear to Cuartas that his aim was to make these systems accessible to everyone: “Poverty and disability go hand in hand and making devices too expensive is meaningless”.
The mechanism is simple: the system has a series of pupil movements assigned to it that are associated with specific commands; when the person moves the pupil, the camera picks it up and the computer interprets it to perform the specific command.
This inventor prides himself on the fact that the technology he has designed truly serves the needs of the people it is intended for. “They welcome it with a sense of joy because it is often the first time they have a device that helps them with their problem,” he says, adding: “It has also been very well received by programmers, makers and the entire open source community”.
Although it originated in Colombia, Cuartas has released the manufacturing instruction manual and allows anyone in any country around the world to build it as long as they do not plan to sell it. At the moment, in addition to his native country, it has already been sold in Brazil, the United States and Chile and it has also been manufactured in South Africa, France, Spain and Cuba.
Cuartas, acknowledged as one of the Innovators Under 35 Colombia 2013 by MIT Technology Review in Spanish, also describes himself as an illusionist and highlights the “union of technology and the social dimension” as the key to communities moving forward. Therefore, his ambition is to make these devices accessible and improve people’s lives.