After winning £100,000 in funding from the Small Business Research Initiatives scheme, Open Bionics this week launched an National Health Service (NHS) trial for children living with physical disability. This six-month trial will showcase the feasibility of their technology and product.
Before 3D printing technology entered the medical realm, prosthetics devices were usually seen as expensive, lacking function, and aesthetically unpleasing. However, when former tech journalist Samantha Payne met robotics engineer Joel Gibbard back in 2013, the duo decided to fuse their ambitions to help those with physical disabilities. Together, the following year, they started the UK-based robotic arm and prosthetics firm Open Bionics. Not only has the startup managed to greatly reduced the price of prosthetics, making them more accessible to all, they’ve also made assistive devices cool to wear, especially for children.
In the past, Payne and Gibbard have collaborated with Disney to create superhero-themed prosthetics, allowing kids to turn their disability into an attachment they can be proud of. The bionic hands are based on the characters from films like Iron Man, Frozen, and Star Wars. Following in line with their focus on accessibility, the startup is also fully open source, which has helped fuel their global community.
Open Bionics has also put their efforts towards the field of robotics, recently unveiling the Brunel hand. This fully articulated robotic hand has 9 degrees of freedom and 4 degrees of actuation. It can be programmed and offers impeccable grip and functionality.
The NHS trial is super exciting and may lead to the 3D robotic hands being far more widely available to children and a fraction of the current cost. Watch this space and to hear more join Reach at our Family Weekend on 20-22nd October where Joel and Samantha will be speaking and show us all the hands, come and give them a go – its exclusive to Reach! Book now using this link.