Hackberry hand

The photo shows a futuristic prosthetic hand, complete with opposable thumb and forefinger, articulated wrist, and more. One amazing feature is that this is not a someday-maybe technology demonstration; it is available today. And perhaps most amazing is the fact that you can print one for yourself using a 3D printer and off-the-shelf electronics for under $300. Part of the reason for the low cost is that the device communicates with a smartphone, relaying signals detected from the wearer’s arm muscles, and translating them into commands for the motorized hand.

The HACKberry prosthetic hand is the creation of exiii, a technology company based in Tokyo, Japan. The company has released all the 3D print files for creating the device, as well as the source code for the Arduino microprocessor. It also has released the details on everything from the standard digital camera batteries used to power the device, to the details of the photosensors used to detect muscle activity in the wearer’s forearm. The company retains the rights to the patents, but provides a non-exclusive, non-transferable license for their use at no cost.

According to the HACKberry website, the reason for releasing the design data as open source is to encourage other developers to use this as a foundation on which to build new and improved prosthetic hands. The company also hopes that this will also make it possible for more people to benefit from the affordable design around the world. In a world where intellectual property so often is guarded in secrecy, it is refreshing to see a company whose strategy includes the recognition of a greater good.