Up to 6,000 major limb amputations are carried out in the UK every year, according to the NHS, and amputees can understandably struggle to adapt to their injury.
Current prosthetic limbs can be cumbersome and limit movement, and if you’re wanting one that offers a bit more flexibility you can expect to be paying a lot more money for it.
But Open Bionics, the winner of the UK leg of the James Dyson Award, is hoping its low-cost robotic hand can change that, as CEO Joel Gibbard told us in the video above.
With Open Bionics an entire hand can be 3D printed and assembled in just four manufactured parts, produced in around 40 hours and at a cost of under £1,000.
When compared with the £3,000-£60,000 a high-end prosthetic limb can usually cost, and the fact that these new robotic hands can complete tasks just as well as the expensive ones, it’s no surprise that Joel Gibbard, the 25-year-old behind Open Bionics, is on to a winner.
Amputees are able to control movement in the hand, including the fingers, through the use of electromyographical sensors which are stuck to their skin.
For winning the James Dyson Award Joel will receive £2,000, which will be spent on a new 3D printer to speed up the prototyping process, and his design will advance to the international stage of the competition.
The Plymouth University robotics graduate said: “We’ve encountered many challenges in designing our hands but the reactions of the individuals we help fuel our perseverance to bring them to market. My aim is for Open Bionics to disrupt the prosthetics industry by offering affordable prosthetics for all.”
The international winner will be announced on September 17, and will receive £30,000 to develop their invention.