2022 People's Choice Award Winner
The idea: Guided Hands, by Imaginable Solutions
The ideator: Lianna Genovese
The solution: An assistive device that guides hand movements to enable people with limited hand mobility to write, paint, draw and access technology through a touch-screen device.
An introduction to Elissa, a painter living with cerebral palsy, first inspired Lianna Genovese to design an assistive device to improve hand mobility as an assignment during her first year of engineering school.
When the design not only had an impact, but won first place in a Canadian student competition, Genovese realized she could also help others with limited hand mobility and an entrepreneurial venture was born.
“I decided I wanted to help people and tried to find other Elissas – people with mobility issues due to arthritis or Huntington’s disease, for instance,” says Genovese, winner of the Arthritis Society’s inaugural People’s Choice Arthritis Ideator Award.
Her device, Guided Hands, uses a sliding system and 3D printed handpieces tailored to the user that allows them to express themselves on a touchscreen or in painting, writing and drawing. It also offers an opportunity to build confidence and independence.
Throughout her undergraduate career as a biomedical and mechanical engineering student, Genovese led a double life: student and entrepreneur. When she wasn’t doing coursework, she was applying for grants and patents and working in the family basement building the devices herself.
Genovese plans to apply the funding from her Arthritis Society Ideator Award towards marketing and manufacturing Guided Hands to continue selling her product across North America. She now uses a Canadian manufacturer and recently hired her first employee. She has a team of engineering students assisting with research and is “well supported by mentors who can guide me and lift me up.
“Winning the People’s Choice Award was unbelievable,” she says. “Having people who understand the pain of arthritis cheering me on and believing in the solution is wonderful, and being involved with Arthritis Society Canada opens so many doors.”
“Having people who understand the pain of arthritis cheering me on is wonderful.”