Student designs tech to make wheelchair life easier

Apr 21, 2018, 6:27 AM
The team behind Portal....
The team behind Portal.

PROVO — This project started with four friends who wanted to build something that would make life a little better.

“We sat down with our friend Lauren, who uses a wheelchair, and said take us through your day from when you wake up to when you go to bed,” said Morgen Glessing, the CEO and a creator of Portal. “We learned so many problems she deals with. An insight that she gave us is that it’s hard to get through a lot of doors on campus.”

Glessing and three other students at Brigham Young University, Samuel Lew, Josh Horne and Jake Parry, took Lauren’s complaints and asked other people who use wheelchairs if they had similar concerns. They did.

“Some of the door buttons are broken. A lot of them are in weird awkward places,” Glessing said. “You don’t know if you have seven seconds to get through or 15 seconds. Sometimes the doors will close and smash their legs.”

The four set to work finding a solution. Glessing said they wanted to create something that would make the doors more reliable and easier to use. He said people who walk to class never have to worry about how they’ll get through the number of doors in their path, and he wants people in wheelchairs to have that same chance.

That’s where Portal comes in.

The team built technology that is about the size of a small stack of cards. It plugs in easily to the motor on automatic doors and is controlled by an app.

“Once you have the Portal app downloaded the phone can go back in your pocket. Then every time you approach a door, equipped with a portal device, it will open up,” Glessing said. “We built it kind of like Star Wars or Star Trek. The doors just open up.”

He said the doors won’t close again until the app is at least five feet away.

“It really allows someone true peace of mind that the door isn’t going to just smash on their legs,” Glessing said.

The team behind Portal.

Portal is still in beta mode right now. They’ve installed in on ten doors on the Utah Valley University Campus, and hope to have 150 installed on doors on five University Campuses across the state by the end of the month.


Today’s Top Stories


This morning the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport o...
Waverly Golden

Snowball Express arrives at Salt Lake City Airport

On Dec. 3 the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport on its way to Orlando Walt Disney World. 
1 day ago
Cam Rising losing his helmet (Photo Credit, Wally Skalij, LA Times)...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: The long and winding road to the championship

Never give up, not on each other, the children, or life. We may be down, but never out. Keep fighting for the things we hold dear. We believe in each other.
1 day ago
Former astronaut and Utah Sen. Jake Garn will be honored Saturday with an art installation tribute ...
Mark Jones

Former Utah Sen. Jake Garn to be honored with art tribute on Saturday

Former Utah Sen. Jake Garn will be honored with an art installation tribute Saturday at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
2 days ago
A west valley police car is pictured. Police are investigating a hit and run...
Mark Jones

Fire in West Valley City home contained to one room in basement

A fire inside a West Valley City home Friday was contained to one room in the basement, according to fire officials on scene.
2 days ago
Both Utah rail workers and Utah farmers expressed relief that a threatened rail strike was averted ...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

Union Pacific, Utah farmers, relieved threat of strike has passed

Union Pacific Railroad representatives said claims about days off, made by workers threatening to strike, were outright false.
2 days ago
Police in Moscow, Idaho say that a person listed on the lease of the house where 4 students were fo...
Elizabeth Wolfe and Mallika Kallingal, CNN

Moscow police say 6th person on lease isn’t involved in Idaho homicides

The four Idaho homicide victims were found stabbed to death on November 13 in an off-campus house in the college town.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Student designs tech to make wheelchair life easier