This is a story about what enthusiasts from a variety of fields can accomplish when they work together. In this case, they are on the path to disrupt the prosthetic industry.
What do you get when you combine video game players, game publishers, robotics experts, and a hardware manufacturer, with a little help from Marvel, Disney, and LucasFilm? In the case of Open Bionics, Bristol Robotics Laboratories, Eidos Montreal, and Deus Ex Universe (who also partnered with Intel and Razer), the goal is to change the prosthetic industry so people who need them, or just want them, can have affordable, functional, and beautiful prosthetics. And fun, too.
Open Bionics is the company that is leading the project, creating superhero and Disney-inspired prosthetics for children so they can have fun with their devices, with the Tony Stark Iron Man hand, the Lucas Film Starwars light saber hand, or the Disney’s Frozen Queen Elsa Snowflake hand. Open Bionics is also getting assistance from the other companies in designing the technology for even more advanced prosthetics and in its blog is open to public input on the types of movements and actions people would like.
The company’s founder and CEO Joel Gibbard has been fascinated by robotic and bionic hands since he was a teenager and pursued his interest through his university studies. Gibbard is credited with pioneered a movement of affordable and open source bionic prosthetics. According to Gibbard they now have an almost functional prototype of an advanced lower arm and hand that is controlled by sensing muscle movements in the arm or back. The company’s work is all open source and downloadable, with the intention that people who have an interest, whether they are amputees, gamers, or hobbyists, can download the plans and create the parts of their own prosthetics using 3D printers.