Today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching a challenge initiative to help improve prosthetics and assistive technologies.  As part of the Innovation Creation Series Challenge, the VA is pushing for rapid innovation around the development of personalized technologies to improve care and quality of life for Veterans.  Of course, when you hear personalization and innovation you know 3D printing can’t be far behind.

The goal of the initiative is to use 3D printing and distributed creation to contribute to an open ecosystem of prosthetics and other assistive technologies.  Think of an entire universe of e-nable type devices and prosthetics for people with disabilities and  you can begin to imagine why this is a big deal.

The VA has rolled out a list of specific challenges to kickstart the initiative:

  • Develop novel upper and lower extremity devices at the end of the prothesis for daily use.
  • Create a medication pill box that allows the flexibility to hold medications that need to be taken up to 8 times a day with a reminder system for each time medication needs to be taken.
  • Create a device that can dampen tremor when a Veteran is performing fine motor tasks.
  • Design a device to remotely change the speed and grip strength of a prosthetic device for our Veterans with upper extremity injuries.
  • Create a way to reassign motions and buttons on the Nintendo Wii controller to allow for alternative methods of access to games for Veterans with physical disabilities.

The entire challenge is running on an accelerated timeline designed to turn ideas into reality as quickly as possible.  After launching today, collaborators and participants will work together to create, refine, and improve designs through May, June, and July.  The challenge ends with a two-day makeathon on July 28th and 29th at the Hunter Holmes VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA.

These types of challenges help showcase the best of 3D printing’s potential to make the world a better place.  If you want to get involved, make sure to head over to the challenge website.  And if you do get involved, tweet at me to let me know how it goes!

This post originally appeared on the shapeways blog.

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