A Smartphone Dock for your Arm? Why Not?

Why not that is, if you have a prosthetic arm. Although it’s hard to believe we haven’t seen this before, [Trevor Prideaux], according to [The Telegraph's] article, “has become the world’s first ever patient to have a smartphone docking system built into his prosthetic arm.”

[Trevor] was born without a forearm, and, as he puts it, he’s used to adapting to things.  However, he thought others might be struggling with the same problem, especially those that become disabled later in life. Once their help was secured, Nokia and the Exeter Mobility Centre got to work on his new limb and produced a prototype in five weeks!

[Trevor] is quite pleased with his new phone docking system. Texting especially is much easier and safer, and the phone can be removed when needed for making calls. We love to see hacks like this where people enhance their abilities using technology! For another hack helping those with disabilities, check out this wheelchair elevator/winch made for a non-accessible apartment.

via [reghardware.com]

Meet Mr. Haas, he makes eyes

Here’s a story of an ocularist who makes prosthetic eyes from glass. Obviously here’s a necessary and important service, but we find it surprising that this seems something of a dying art. [Mr. Haas] lives in the UK but notes that most glass eye makers have been German, and tend to pass the trade down to their children. With that father-to-son daughter transfer of knowledge becoming less common these days we wonder just how many people know how to do this any longer.

But don’t despair, it’s not that there won’t be a source for ocular prosthesis, as acrylic eyes are quite common. But what we see in the video after the break is breathtaking and we hate to see the knowledge and experience lost the way vacuum tube manufacture and even common blacksmithing have.

[Read more...]

Excuse me, my pinky is ringing

We get a lot of email challenging us to hack things. Sometimes we ignore them, other times we send some words of encouragement. But this time around we thought [Tait] had really come up with a great hack; to build a Bluetooth handset into his prosthetic finger. He hasn’t done much hacking in the past and was wondering if we could put out a challenge to our readers to make this happen. After a bit of back-and-forth brainstorming he decided to take on the challenge himself and was met with great success.

Like other Bluetooth handset hacks [Tait] started with a simple ear-mounted module. He extended the volume button with a piece of plastic and placed it under the battery. A couple of wooden matchsticks space the battery just enough so that it can be squeezed to adjust the volume level. He then extended the speaker with some wire. Next, he used the Oogoo recipe from our previous post to mold a false-finger and a thumb-ring. The PCB and battery fit in the finger, which places the microphone near a hole in the pad of the plastic pinky. The thumb ring houses the speaker to finish the look. Don’t miss the photos [Tait] sent in after the break.

[Read more...]

Robotic helicopter that can grasp a payload

Like the Grand Theft Auto RC missions come to life, this helicopter can grasp objects for transport. They don’t have to be a special size or shape, and it can lift them even if they are not centered. This is thanks to a load-balancing hand (originally developed as a prosthesis) that relies on flexible joints and a tendon-like closing mechanism. As you can see in the video, the light-weight chopper has an on-board camera so that the operator can see what is being picked up. This little guy has no problem lifting objects that are over one kilogram while remaining stable in the air.

[Thanks Paul]

EMG controlled prosthesis

This prosthetic arm is the result of a student project. [Amnon Demri] and his classmates built it with below-the-elbow amputees in mind. It uses electromyography to actuate the fingers and wrist. Four stick-on sensors are placed around the elbow to sense electrical activity there. These signals are interpreted by a PIC 16f877a microcontroller which then controls the servo motors to operate the prosthetic limb. This sounds like a very economical solution and as you can see in the videos after the break, it works fairly well.

[Read more...]

Door opening help

For those who are seeking prosthetic limbs, or just require a little bit of robotic gripper help, the choices are very few and very costly. A newcomer to the area is hoping to change the costly part with their door opening arm. Costing only $2,000 to build, it is quite cheap compared to the other offerings. This arm can grip, twist, and swing its arm at the same time using a single motor thanks to a slip clutch.

[via Popular Science]

Dean Kamen’s prosthetic arm

luke

60 minutes has covered [Dean Kamen]‘s modular robotic arm.  This thing is light weight, adjustable for different body frame sizes, modular, and eventually thought controlled. The system is currently functioning quite well, as you can see in the video. Current testers are controlling it with buttons under their toes, but the thought control is in the later stages of development. Sounds like science fiction right? You can see a monkey using a thought controlled arm to feed itself grapes, though we don’t think it is [Dean]‘s arm.

Another cool feature of this arm is the fact that it changes its grip on your body depending on how much weight you are lifting. Lift something heavy and it grips harder.  Though it has a lot of the same information, there is a little bit of different footage in [Dean]‘s TED talk about the arm.

It seems to us, with microcontrollers becoming so cheap and accessible that we should be seeing more home made contraptions in this area. Are any of you working with prosthetics?

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