Every once in a while you hear a story that is so inspiring that you literally stand up and go do something after it is over. For me, one of those stories was the “eye writer,” a contraption built so a paralyzed artist could communicate and continue with his art.
Mick Ebeling was an integral part of this wonderful thing. He could have probably patted himself on the back at that point and gone on with his life, content that he did something wonderful. He didn’t though, instead he sought out to continue on the path of selfless awesomeness.
He has also traveled to Sudan in order to leave victims of war the tools and knowledge necessary to produce their own low-cost prosthesis.
Mick is now sharing his philosophy and story in a book called “Not Impossible” which will be available tomorrow, January 6th. I know I’ll need to pick up a copy for my personal library.
Mick took a few minutes to answer some questions we had about his projects and experiences.
You’ve been sharing the systems you created publicly so that others can build their own. Would you say that you’re a fan of open source? If so, how has the open source philosophy worked for you?
A fan of open source would be an understatement. From the very first device we made (the eyewriter) we believed that freedom of expression, communication, mobility, etc is not something that something should have to “qualify for” by way of insurance or income. Those things are inalienable rights that all humans are entitled to without bureaucratic entanglement.
For Not Impossible, open source has evolved into a synonym for accessibility. So now we look at things and ask ourselves “how can we get this into the hands of people who need it” – whatever that “it” is. It has caused us to look at things from the standpoint of a finished product versus only just creating and posting code / directions. This way of looking at things has also inspired us to approach people / makers/ companies with finished products and find ways to collaborate with them on their “closed” code or products to open it up and make it more accessible.
What does the future hold for you? Are you currently working on any more projects?
we are currently working on some amazing projects. our projects range from a low cost exoskeleton initiative to help children with cerebral palsy walk again, to redesigning the wheelchair, to working with parkinsons and essential tremor patients to improve their quality of life by making some of the basics accessible. We have a very special project launching in 2 weeks around a farmer from outside Toronto who was able to write a love letter to his wife and tell her that he loved her using a customizable interface we created for an off the shelf eye-tracking device. The project is called “Don’s Voice” and is going to be really amazing to see take hold.
How can someone get involved?
Its really simple. We want to know what skill and expertise it is that you have to offer. http://www.notimpossiblelabs.com/#!join/cz6d
Our belief is that people have a fairly limited amount of money they can give when it comes to crowdfunding, but an near limitless amount of expertise they might be able to offer around a project they are passionate about.