Jan 6, 2017 | By Julia

3D printing is becoming increasingly popular in both the art world and disability community, but rarely do the two cross paths. That’s precisely what makes James Dunn’s story so interesting.

The 23-year-old photographer has a rare genetic condition known as epidermolysis bullosa. It makes the skin extremely fragile and prone to severe blistering – Dunn has had to cope with immense pain his entire life. Over time, photography has proven increasingly challenging for Dunn, as in his case using a camera the traditional way is not feasible. His fingers began fusing together at age 10, rendering it impossible to manage all the buttons and dials of the camera.     

But earlier this year, BBC program “The Big Life Fix” got wind of Dunn’s case. The series, which helps leading UK inventors create ingenious new solutions to everyday problems and build life-changing solutions for people in need, put the young photographer in touch with inventor Jude Pullen. In a stroke of brilliance and with some simple 3D printing, Pullen developed the “Zocus,” a motorized system that remotely controls the zoom and focus of the camera lens via tablet or smartphone. Dunn is now able to use his DSLR freely again.

the newly adapted camera with (left to right) BBC presenter Simon Reeve, James Dunn, and Jude Pullen

“When you’ve got a disability a lot of things are taken away from you in terms of being in control,” Dunn explained. “I’ve got a part of my life now that I’m in control of.”

The Bluetooth enabled ZocusApp is currently available for iPads and iPhones, and Pullen plans to release the Android-compatible version soon.

Best of all, Pullen’s solution is open-source, enabling other disabled photographers world-wide to master their craft. If you have access to a 3D printer and some basic soldering and electronics equipment, setting up the Zocus yourself costs under £90. If, on the other hand, you need to order parts from a commercial 3D printing service, the whole thing should cost around £200.

In fact, Zocus isn’t limited to helping those with disabilities like Dunn’s. Pullen notes that the low cost of the setup may be helpful for photographers and filmmakers of all abilities working on a tight budget.

The first version of Zocus was featured on BBC2’s “The Big Life Fix,” but Pullen invites others to build on his idea, thanks to open-source sharing of both the software and 3D printable hardware that make up his invention.

Judd Pullen’s design files, complete with full instructions, are available here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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