Through the looking glass: Practically any boy who grew up in the 1970s and 80s pretended to be Steve Austin, aka The Bionic Man. Granted it would cost us three quarters of our limbs, an eye, and, six million dollars, but we didn't care — he was cool. Now bionics are here. They aren't as powerful as Steve Austin's, but it's still in its infancy.
Open Bionics announced on Thursday that with the help of a partnership with Hanger Clinic, it has brought its Hero Arm prosthetic limb to the United States. The robotic arm used to only be available in the UK and France.
The prosthetics are 3D-fitted and printed, so Open Bionics can produce them faster and cheaper than other advanced bionic limbs. The arms have myoelectric sensors that articulate the hand movements “with lifelike precision.”
“Special sensors within the Hero Arm detect muscle movements, meaning you can effortlessly control your bionic hand with intuitive life-like precision,” says Open Bionics. “Also, haptic vibrations, beepers, buttons and lights provide you with intuitive notifications.”
Probably best of all for the kids is that the arms can be themed to their favorite heroes. The UK has seen Ironman, Star Wars, Frozen, and Deus Ex inspired versions of the limbs. Heck, even as an adult I wouldn’t mind having a working Deus Ex prosthetic — even if just as a collector’s piece.
However, the arms are not cheap. They start at around $3,000. Still, that is far less than its competitors which can cost up to $95,000. Better yet, Open Bionics can fit and print an arm in about 40 hours. This is much faster than the weeks and months it takes for similar products.
Bristol-based Open Bionics was co-founded by Joel Gibbard and Samantha Payne in 2014 when Gibbard was still a teenager. He won the UK’s James Dyson Award for Engineering in 2015, but that was just the start. In 2017, the company was awarded the UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good, which came with a $1 million prize. The capital enabled the startup to complete work on the development of the Hero Arm.
For orders and more information visit the Open Bionics website.