Limitless Possibilities: Consultant to Disabilities Studies course receives patent for assistive stylus device
As more engineers reimagine everyday products through the lens of assistive technology, designing with empathy is essential to creating user-friendly devices that can benefit people with disabilities. For many people with physical disabilities and limited dexterity, using touchscreen devices presents a challenge. Recognizing the lack of an adaptive stylus pen tailored for limited hand mobility, Paul Tudisco — a former consultant in the Disabilities Studies course at NYU Tandon School of Engineering — set out in 2012 to design a stylus that was comfortable, easy to use, and accommodated individuals like himself who were living with cerebral palsy. Tudisco recently received a patent for the result of his efforts: the Limitless Stylus, which allows users to easily use touchscreen devices and gain more independence.
Tudisco, who was a member of the Adapt Community Network (formerly known as the United Cerebral Palsy of New York City) participated in the Disabilities Studies course taught by senior lecturer in Technology, Culture and Society Allan Goldstein. The course consists of a partnership between NYU Tandon and Adapt, which provides programs and services for people with disabilities. Pairing NYU Tandon students with consultants from Adapt, Goldstein’s course focuses on building relationships and fostering a greater understanding of disabilities, and was featured in the 2016 documentary “The Ability Exchange.”Tudisco’s product features an angled ‘pen’ and two velcro straps that come in various sizes and angles to best fit a customer and provide stable precision. Tudisco even creates custom-designed styluses tailored to someone’s specific requests. “People come back and tell me after using it that I’m the only one who has this kind of product,” Tudisco said of customer feedback. “People love the product.”
As a consultant in the course, Tudisco worked alongside NYU Tandon students on digital storytelling projects. Ahmed Atieh (’16) teamed up with Tudisco and fellow classmates during the fall 2015 semester to create a comedic short that involved Tudisco chasing after a thief who stole his stylus drawings.
Atieh expressed how he and his fellow classmates gained knowledge of how engineering and design can serve local communities and society as a whole through assistive and adaptive technology. “We were lucky to work with Paul because he was already using engineering to benefit himself and others with disabilities,” Atieh said. “Paul really taught us how engineering can help others in a practical way.”
With the patent acceptance, Tudisco can now expand his business and market to a wider audience. While he hopes to return to Goldstein’s course in the future, Tudisco noted that “for now, business is picking up, and I’m doing 100% of the work myself.” Praising the success of Tudisco’s business, Goldstein shared that “Paul shows that when we accommodate the impairment we release a powerhouse.”