Quadriplegia is usually provoked by a lesion in the spinal cord. The palsy the patient experiences in the extremities prevents those injured from accomplishing a series of tasks, making them very dependent on others. To improve their situation, entrepreneur, Philippe Magno, has founded the HandsFree Institute, a pro bono start-up that uses technology to help people with restricted mobility to improve their autonomy, promoting social inclusion. The benefits of this proposal have awarded Philippe with a winning place in the Latin American Innovators under 35 from the MIT Technology Review LATAM edition.
With only a head movement, users can control smartphones and tablets thanks to the equipment developed by HandsFree. Its product, Module Mouse, transforms head movement into the mouse's movements. To click, one just needs to use the mouth. Combined with other modules, people can operate other gadgets in their homes such as turning lights on and off, changing TV channels, and turning air conditioning on and off.
The young man explains, "When a quadriplegic person has no autonomy to perform basic functions around the home, like turning lights on or the TV off, HandsFree allows them to use a smartphone or a computer, like any other person, and gives them total autonomy along with digital and social inclusion. It also allows them to work and study."
HandsFree is currently helping 27 users in their day to day with products built fully by the pro bono start-up. They have also created other social projects such as Home School, which educates children who are unable to attend class, through long distance schooling. Another social initiative from SocialHands helps corporations to become inclusive towards people with disabilities.
The director of the Scientific and Technological Park of Pando, Uruguay, Fernando Amestoy, member of the jury for the 2019 Latin American Innovators Under 35, states "Without a doubt, this developed product has a high social impact since it aims to improve the live conditions of people with physical limitations to be able to manipulate IT tools and house appliances."