Google will grant $700,000 to an Israel-based initiative aimed at producing technology to help people with disabilities.
The search engine giant’s grant to Tikkun Olam Makers, or TOM, was announced Tuesday as part of the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities campaign.
Google’s funding will “underwrite TOM’s plans to support a global movement of innovators creating extremely affordable solutions to neglected needs of people with disabilities, with the goal of improving the lives of 250,000,000 within a decade,” according to a statement from The Reut Group, the Tel Aviv-based nonprofit think tank that started the initiative.
Tikkun Olam Makers holds three-day innovation makethons in which engineers and technologists come together to invent products for people with disabilities — like a bionic hand and a walker that helps disabled people climb stairs. It claims to have created 120 product prototypes since 2014.
A makeathon is where “makers,” as they are called, use common household items, computers or other devices, musical instruments, cameras, printers, or even food and drink to create a new product or technology. It’s a type of hacking — not of computer code, but of objects, with makers “mashing up” existing products and technologies to create something new.
The maker movement dates back to 1995, with the advent of Make magazine. Each month, the magazine shows readers how to do things like build a 3D printer, build a rocket and launcher, make a guitar out of a guitar box and an amplifier out of a cracker box, and so on. Make holds festivals in four cities in the US each year, and licenses its name to groups around the world that organize festivals based on the Make name and approach.
TOM, which sponsors maker events in Israel and the US, is dedicated to developing technology to help others in need. Tikkun olam is the Hebrew term for “making the world a better place.”