Giving a Helping (Bionic) Hand

Sharing Is Caring

There are an estimated 2 million hand amputees worldwide… and 3d Printing has begun to revolutionise catering for those who want to bridge the gap this disability can create.  There have been lots of static or limited mobility prosthetics being made for years, and they either cost a small fortune to produce or have exceedingly limited functionality.  Not anymore.  Company “Open Bionics” are looking to change all that, and the best part?  They’re doing it all OPEN SOURCE, meaning anyone can take the software coding, designs and contribute or build their own version.  Founder, Joel Gibbard’s description of his product is that it’s like a skeleton, but with customisable skin on top, and indeed it is able to be custom designed to suit a wearer’s taste (See photo below of “Grace” with her stylin’ arm).

OpenBionics
Open Bionics wins £2,000 James Dyson award for 3D-printed robotic arm

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Grace – with her fashionable new arm

Express Lane

The key point of notability with Open Bionics’ (OD) design is that a standard high mobility prosthetic retail from $40,000 AUD up to $100,000, which can obviously present financial issues – particularly to children as they grow and require re-sized limbs.  OD is targeting to have a design with enough motor function to pick up and manipulate objects for less that $1800 AUD, by next year.  But even better, is how easy their whole design and construct process is.  A user is able to have all their required dimensions taken within an hour and the prosthetic is able to be printed on a 3d printer within 40hours.  That’s an incredible turn-around when you couple it with how comparatively cheap it is.  To put this in perspective, a lot of people would spend more money on dental work.

The Emotional Connection

I think what excited me most about this – is the emotional connection that such technology is able to give to people, both user and those they interact with.  It’s something that we are intrinsically bound to in our interactions on a subconscious level.  Check out the video below and watch what the power of a simple handshake does to those who receive it.  Magic 🙂  Hats off to Open Bionics and we’re going to be watching their space intently over the next year or so.

Watch the faces of people as the hand “Clasps” their own

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