Joel Gibbard, founder of Open Bionics, used inspiration from superheroes and comic books to create his low-cost, 3D-printed robotic hand that recently won the 2015 James Dyson Award. Gibbard and company are taking that inspiration to the next level, unveiling three superhero-infused hands designed for kids.
The company released three LED-studded designs at Techstars’ Disney Accelerator Demo Day: Star Wars, Marvel, and Frozen. The Star Wars Jedi hand was modeled by a 12-year-old boy and was designed in collaboration with Lucasfilm’s ILMxLABto to resemble Star Wars’ lightsaber. A second design resembles Tony Stark’s bionic style, and the final one looks like Elsa from Disney’s Frozen.
These robotic hands are intended to stand out and allow the children to proudly wear their prosthesis. Kudos to Open Bionics. Gibbard has talked to many prosthetic users during his journey, and he’s said the users were generally more concerned with the appearance of the prosthesis than its function.
“Now kids can get excited about their prosthetics. They won’t have to do boring physical therapy, they’ll train to become heroes,” They’re not just getting medical devices, they’re getting bionic hands inspired by their favorite characters. The Walt Disney Company is generously donating the time of its creative teams and providing royalty free licenses. More designs coming soon!”
Open Bionics can 3D-scan an amputee and build them a custom-fit hand in less than two days. This is certainly much faster than most other prosthetics on the market, which can take weeks or months to make.
Open Bionics has also found a way to create the robotic hands at a much lower cost. The company says other available options cost around $100,000 while its 3D-printed hands can cost under $1,000 per hand. The hands work by connecting into the muscles in the upper forearm. Myoelectric sensors are used to take messages from the muscles and uses them to control the hand.
“The problem of current robotic prosthetics is their financial barriers. The only alternative to a robotic prosthetic is a cosmetic hand that is function-less and heavy, or an alienating hook,” Gibbard has previously said. “I can 3D print a robotic prosthetic hand inspired by comic books and superheros that hand amputees enjoy showing off for a fraction of the price.”
Gibbard hopes to start selling the product in the second half of 2016.