Alumnus and Adjunct Professor John Damiao ’09 calls his invention which turns an ordinary wheelchair into a power wheelchair for about $1,000 a “game-changer” It’s called indieGo and Google.org has awarded Damiao and his team at the Center for Discovery with a $1.125 million grant to develop it and get it on the market. Damiao is an Adjunct Professor at Dominican College teaching Kinesiology.
The indieGo is a small, lightweight device that you can roll any wheelchair on to in order to convert it to a power wheelchair. Damiao is an occupational therapist who works with individuals with Cerebral Palsy who are unable to control their own wheelchair. His team in Hurleyville, NY, at the Center for Discovery is experimenting with a variety of controls, from joysticks to touch buttons to allow any patient with impaired mobility to drive. Typical wheelchairs for these individuals can cost $10,000 to $15,000.
Damiao said it was nice that Google recognized the tremendous impact that this device can have and was not looking only at funding high-tech or flashy projects. “We felt great and excited that Google recognized the importance of trying to bring mobility to as many people as possible. They are this big tech giant company and this device is very basic and simple,” he said.
Google awarded 29 grantees with $20 million in grants to help address accessibility challenges all over the world and is helping bring the projects to life.