Birth of the Puffin
Having a disability pushed me (Adriana) to be innovative in my approach to everything. My love for technology started at age seven when my occupational therapist introduced me to assistive tech that allowed me to use a computer by myself. It was my first taste of independence and I was hooked!
The idea for the Puffin had been floating around in my head for a while. I love to travel, but typically don’t bring my power chair for various reasons, and as a result, I'm cut off from everything - like everyone else these days, I'm dependent on personal electronics and the need to always stay connected. I knew that I needed to develop a technology that was portable and could shift and travel with me.
Late 2014, I had the opportunity to submit my idea for a chance to participate in the 2015 MIT Assistive Technology Hackathon. I was one of 13 people chosen and won first place. Four talented MIT engineering students took my vision and built a prototype. From there, I formed a team with Shana Penna, my co-founder and COO. We received funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Mass Life Sciences Internship Competiton, and recently, Puffin became a MassChallenge Boston 2017 finalist. It is incredible to finally see my vision come to fruition!
Why we need your help!
In addition to supporting the sustainability of our project, a crowdfunding campaign would supplement related costs that the grant does not allow such as legal services and a robust branding campaign leading to the product launch.
In the United States, over 5 million have a form of paralysis, many of whom are isolated from their community, living in poverty, and unable to find gainful employment.
Such disabilities impede utilization of mobile devices, preventing full and independent participation in society. Most are unable to use integrated services such as transportation apps, mobile banking, e-commerce, home automation, etc., additionally impacting access to education and employment.
The Puffin is a combination of hardware and software that provides access to a variety of devices, i.e. computers and mobile phones. It allows users to increase their employment opportunities and enhance economic potential typically unavailable to this population; empowering them to gain marketable skills, such as coding, CAD development, etc. Moreover, connecting with apps like home automation systems gives users control of their environment with minimal assistance, aiding in independence.
Funds raised will help us accomplish the following:
- $10,000 for patent filing
- $20,000 to market our first 500 sales
- $40,000 to increase production by getting an injection mold
We also want to share our official hashtag for this campaign, #SelfiesForAll – we believe that everyone has the right to be able to take a
SELFIE! And with our Puffin Device, we will give access to selfie-making magic to a population of incredible people who have been underserved.
Ellen DeGeneres put selfies on the map with her famous, star-studded Oscar night photo – but selfies aren’t just for celebrities!
We were inspired to start this movement when I, Adriana, impressed the judges at the MIT 2015 Assistive Tech Hackathon by taking a selfie with them and my team – this moment helped us WIN that hackathon and propel the mission to where we are today!