Smart People: Social IoT – Vibrations for Good

Ebeling is president and CEO of the Ebeling Group, which produces commercial and studio work and serves as a hub of creative and technical innovation for film, television, and advertising projects.

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Smart People: Social IoT – Vibrations for Good

Mick Ebeling, founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs

American film producer Mick Ebeling’s life changed when he met Tempt. If you aren’t a graffiti buff, you won’t immediately recognize that this is the tag, a stylized signature, of artist Tony Quan. At the time of the meeting, in 2003, the famous graffiti artist was lying in a hospital bed motionless, kept alive with a breathing apparatus and a network of tubes. Tempt was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative nerve disorder which causes the body’s muscles to shrink. Nobody knows what causes ALS and there is no known cure. Right off the bat, Ebeling felt compelled to help Quan communicate and create art again. Since he would never be able to wield a brush again, there had to be another way to make it possible. Ebeling is president and CEO of the Ebeling Group, which produces commercial and studio work and serves as a hub of creative and technical innovation for film, television, and advertising projects. At that time, he was deeply focused on animation and production design, including the coveted role of creating a James Bond title sequence.

We are an innovation lab that’s focused on creating things around social good.

Mick Ebeling

Smart People: Not Impossible Labs Mick Ebeling - Social IoT

 

Sitting down with his team, they came up with the idea for a device which “we had no business of making,” he admitted in an interview for Forbes magazine. The invention was called the Eyewriter and it allowed Tempt to literally draw with his eyes. Ebeling recalls that many weeks later he got an e-mail from Tempt saying, “That’s the first time that I’ve drawn anything for seven years. I feel like I had been held underwater and someone finally reached out and pulled my head up so I could take a breath.”

Eyewriter: Social IoT project

Word leaked out and the world went wild. The Eyewriter made it to the front page of Time magazine as one of its “50 Top Innovations of the Year.” That was the beginning of Not Impossible Labs. “Not Impossible is a brand-new business model and it’s a mash-up. We are a technology innovation lab that’s focused on creating things around social good,” Ebeling said. It seemed absurd to him that a gifted artist like Tempt should not be able to create. It seemed absurd that a young boy named Daniel, whose arms were blown off by a landmine in South Sudan, couldn’t feed himself. So Ebeling and his team flew to sub-Saharan Africa and set up a 3D printer, in effect creating the world’s first mobile 3D printing lab for prosthetics. When they departed in November 2013, the boy was able to feed and take care of himself. When Ebeling visited him again in 2016, Daniel had been enrolled in a private school in Kenya and had just learned to swim.

One of Ebeling’s latest dreams is to revolutionize live music by bringing it to an audience that has traditionally found it inaccessible: the deaf community with Social IoT. With help from product development engineers at Avnet, Music: Not Impossible (M:NI) premiered in September 2018 at the Life is Beautiful music festival in Las Vegas. M:NI is an innovative wearable technology that translates the sound of music into full-body vibration, allowing both deaf and hearing-impaired concertgoers to literally feel live music technology and experience it together for the first time.

It’s really Mick’s mantra of “help one, help many” that forms the basis of the Avnet and Not Impossible Labs partnership – the notion of finding a single instance of human need on which to base a new technology that can ultimately help the world. “This partnership allows us to focus on Not Impossible Labs’ highest and best purpose: inventing solutions to the world’s ‘absurdities,’ with confidence that our creations won’t languish on a back-office shelf,” says Ebeling. “It really helps us bring our dream to ‘Help Many’ to life.”

The Smart People 1/2019

 
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