e-NABLE: At The Forefront Of Crowdsourcing Movement

If you ever wonder what goes on in the e-NABLE Google+ Research and Development community, how we go from sharing an idea to a completed design prototype in less than 2 weeks and why our devices are created for free to those that need them and do not cost thousands of dollars to produce….read on.

What do intellectual property and Open Source Hardware mean to e-NABLE?
by Skip Meetze (e-NABLE member and Research and Development team member)

3D printing and distributed manufacturing (like inkjet/xerographic printing and print-on-demand in prior decades) have changed the nature of intellectual property values in our society. The old systems of copyrights and patents are no longer appropriate and may even prevent our human progress.

e-NABLE is at the forefront of the Crowdsourcing Movement which addresses the dilemma.

• e-NABLE does not have to pay a high cost for developing prosthetic hands for children who need them, because the development is conducted by volunteers who build on each others ideas and share them openly with the rest of the world.

• e-NABLE does not have to pay a high cost for bringing prosthetic hands to children who need them, because the needy children are connected to maker volunteers (with shared technology and resources) by matchmaking volunteers (E-nableMatchers) facilitated by connections and promotions of volunteers using the internet.

An Example:

e-NABLE Product Development Model:


1. Jon Schull shared an idea for “Differential Finger Contraction” (See Figure 1) with pictures and video on June 14th, 2014.

2. This generated 36 comments by volunteer Research and Development members including Nick Parker who:

3. Published a video of his first experimental prototype on June 17th, 2014 (See figure 2.)


4. On June 26th, 2014 – Nick published a video of a definitive “reduction to practice” of the invention (See figure 3) with design files on GitHub (See figure 4.)



Traditional Product Development Model:

5. If Jon had been working for a company that makes prosthetics – chances are the idea would have been shared with only a selected few colleagues within the company.

6. Chances are that the dialog of 36 comments would not have been generated.

7. Chances are that another inventor (Nick) would not have (1) completed, shared and gotten feedback on 2 iterations of development of the invention (2) in less than 2 weeks (3) with another perhaps patentable build on the invention, with a “not obvious” mechanism for “Switching off” some of the fingers so that a subset of fingers are not allowed to move. (4) The posting generated a discussion of 11 comments among e-NABLE volunteer developers within 5 hours.

8. Chances are a costly patenting process would be undertaken by the company which typically would take 10s of thousands of dollars over a period of several years.

Comparative Results:

9. Chances are that the implementation of the invention by a company would be limited by the necessity of fitting into a product with a development cycle that would take several years before it is used by children who need it.

10. Chances are the world-wide group of e-NABLE Research and Development volunteers will evolve the invention and use it in hand and arm prosthetics that will be used by children who need them within MONTHS.

Is this a disruptive process…or what?!

And this post resulted in this conversation:

There you have it …a little glimpse into the e-NABLE Community and the minds behind the designs!

If you are interested in joining and participating in the next Revolution – please visit our Google+ group, introduce yourself and get to jumping into sharing your thoughts and ideas with over 1000 people world wide who are excited to make a difference together.

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