Featured Maker: Richard Porter- Accessibility Hacks

As a repeat Maker for the Faire, Richard Porter is back again to demonstrate a voice-richard porter- maker faireoperated, 3D printed wheelchair control and a wheelchair power take-off created from an off-the-shelf USB car adapter. He is also planning to port the voice-command code to Android and will be able to discuss his experiences with that process.

Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?

From childhood, I have always had an interest in making things. My father was an electrical engineer and built our television and stereo system from kits. He taught me how to solder and as I grew older allowed me to work on projects independently. Lately, I have been working with my daughter to create devices that allow my wife (whose mobility has been affected by MS) to maintain some degree of independence.

What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?

A new inventor/maker should consider making something that is practical and useful and then find someone who has created something similar and has published directions. The quickest and easiest way to learn is by following in the footsteps of those who have blazed the trail before us. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have all of the parts and equipment on hand. Think of things that you do have that can substitute, or find out who does have the necessary parts/equipment and make a plan to borrow or purchase your own.

Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?

I am not selling any of my creations at this time.

What has been your greatest success in business?

In the early 00’s I was a member of a team that developed and sold more than a hundred Linux-based servers for small to medium size businesses.

What advice would you offer other inventors/makers developing or wanting to develop products? 

If you want to sell a lot of product you need to have someone with good business and marketing skills on your team. Don’t be overly concerned about intellectual property rights when just getting started. A patent is useless if you don’t have the resources to defend it.

Want to know more about Richard and his Accessibility Hacks, check out his blog. And be sure to check him out at the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on May 20th.

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