On Tuesday, Google announced funding from its nonprofit Google.org arm to help people living with disabilities through the use of emerging technologies and liberate them as individuals. The company pledged $20 million and issued an open call to identify new areas of opportunity.
Google launched a brand new initiative named the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities project recently, impelling the development of 3D-printed prosthetics to help the disabled in their day to day activities, Jacquelline Fuller, the director of Google.org, said in a blog post.
There are several start-ups researching the world of 3D-printed prosthetics as a possible substitute to expensive, traditional devices. 3D printing provides cost effective material and the ability to build delicate parts used in the moving parts of arms, legs or hands swiftly with high accuracy because of the computer aided design programs used to run 3Dprinters. This will drastically cut down the cost of prosthetics and help people in the developing countries and low-income households to use prosthetics.
The Google Impact Challenge will look for nonprofits and help them find new solutions for the disabled community, according to the blog post. The best among the submitted ideas will be supported by the search giant and given the chance to develop using Google's resources.
To begin the open call for ideas, Google has divided the funding to two companies that focus on cutting down the cost of prosthetic limbs and of auditory therapy, which could eventually improve access to these technologies globally.
The Enable Community has been awarded $600,000 to promote the cause of open-source, 3D-printed prosthetic limbs. While traditional prosthetics can cost several thousands of dollars to customize and entirely create prosthetic limbs, research and development in 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the industry. Enable Community is connecting volunteers who will use 3D printing technology to fit, assemble and purchase limbs for people in need.
In addition, nonprofit group World Wide Hearing was allotted the second grant of $500,000. The organization will develop and test out a low-cost toolkit for the diagnosis of hearing loss and wearable hearing aids. The kit is expected to rely on a connection with smart phones so that help becomes affordable for people from developing countries and in low-income communities as well.
These two nonprofits are just the beginning for Google. The search giant still has an estimated $19 million to be awarded among promising new assistive technologies.