Open Bionics is building “superheroes” — and a better world
There are around 2m hand amputees around the world. Most of them don’t wear a prosthetic limb to help them with daily life. Some have hooks. Very few have access to bionic limbs.
One company is on a mission to change that: Open Bionics.
Meet Open Bionics
We first heard of Open Bionics back in 2015, when it picked up the much lauded James Dyson award.
Since then the robotics startup has made great strides in developing cutting edge affordable robotic devices — specifically the bionic hand.
“We’re making bionic hands lighter, cheaper, and as advanced as state of the art bionics,” says Co-founder and COO Samantha Payne, who is this year up for an award at the esteemed Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards.
“We turn science fiction into science fact by taking robotic limbs from fictional universes such as Iron Man and turn them into bionic hands for amputees.”
Going where others won’t
It’s not that there aren’t already mechanised prosthetic limbs, but these come with extortionate price tags that mean they just aren’t viable for most amputees.
They are “super expensive” Payne exclaims: “This means that only a tiny proportion of amputees actually benefit from a life-changing technology.”
Limb designers were simply “not listening” to the problems amputees were experiencing,” Payne explains. “We saw a lot of room for innovation.”
Today Open Bionics devices are not only half the weight of existing bionic limbs, but their unique manufacturing method has radically reduced costs.
“Tech that currently costs up to £60k we can recreate for under £10k,” says Payne.
Another area that the team is breaking new ground is in children’s healthcare.
The company is the first in the world to making advanced, multi-grip, bionic hands small enough to fit young children.
These devices are so intuitive that a 10-year-old can cycle through different finger grips in a matter of minutes.
And, in a move that empowers youngster to embrace their prosthetics the team partnered with The Walt Disney Company to create Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars-themed limbs.
“We’re turning children with limb differences into bionic superheroes,” says Payne.
The future for Open Bionics
Right now Open Bionics is working with 10 test users, and it continues to work with the amputee community willing to shape its developments.
The aim, however, is to make the company “globally sustainable,” says Payne — and to continue to explore the intersection of robotics, wearable technology, fashion, and art.
“We want to build great robotic devices that make life easier,” she explains.
“We want people to feel comfortable, stylish, futuristic, more independent — and proud.”
We think it’s an admirable dream (and that Payne should feel proud too).
Check out the nominees for this year’s Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards 2017.
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