Open Bionics Gets A Grip

Last week we ran our first batch of object testing with our latest 3D printed prosthetic hand design. We’ve been experimenting to find out which grip modes will benefit amputees most.

In the video below you will see objects being handled that are different weights, heights, sizes, and shapes. We also had a mix of rigid and flexible objects, and objects with handles and without.  We chose to test 25 objects selected from amputee feedback and academic research. Most of the objects were pointed out as being a ‘must be able to handle’ by amputees, if this bionic hand is to be useful for everyday use. We found this research on ‘Role Analysis of Dominant and Non-dominant Hand in Daily Life’  very helpful.

The bionic hand in this video is capable of handling 5 kilos of weight and demonstrates this by picking up the loaded shopping bag. Open Bionics tries out another round of objects testing. This is a 3D printed bionic hand in development for amputees.

This test was designed to see how our bionic hand can manipulate objects. You’ll notice this test wasn’t performed by an amputee. We created a 3D printed handle to test the hand because we didn't want to inconvenience an amputee volunteer for every test run. We'll share this handle design with you soon. We have since tested with an amputee and we’ll share that video with you next week (check out the sneak peek below of Dan picking up a marble).

Short video showing a congenital amputee manipulating a marble with our 3D printed bionic prosthesis controlled via EMG sensors.

This 3D printed bionic hand can be controlled via EMG sensors to perform multiple grip changes. In this video we are testing the following grip modes:

  • Full open / close

  • Hook

  • Thumbs up / down

  • Index finger point

  • Pinch grip

  • Tripod grip

This prosthetic also has proportional control. This means amputees can choose how much power to move their fingers with, this affects the speed and force of grip. So, an amputee can hold a bottle and choose to squeeze the bottle harder if they think the bottle might slip.  

Although a lot of the testing was about handling objects, some of the grip modes are there to make gesturing easier. For example, the ‘index finger point’ has been highlighted to us as really important by amputees who use a split-hook or cosmetic prosthesis. Sometimes it can be a struggle to accurately point things out when you don’t have a working index finger.

We've been using micro gel finger tip grips to give the fingers more friction. If you know a better solution please share your idea with us on our forum

All of the grip modes demonstrated in this prosthetic hand can be found in our robotic 'Ada hand' for researchers and makers. The 'Ada hand' isn't built to be a prosthetic but a research platform.  We are still developing our prosthetic hands. 

Next week we’ll show you how this bionic hand can be used by an amputee to manipulate various objects and perform everyday tasks. We’d be really interested to know if there are certain tasks you’d like to perform easier, or certain objects you’d like to be able to grip better. Let us know by tweeting us or writing in the comments on Facebook!

Build your own 3D printed robotic hand in under an hour

Today Open Bionics announced the release of their first open source 3D printed robotic hand kit. The ‘Ada hand’.

The team, based in the UK’s Bristol Robotics Lab, have released their first robotic hand called ‘Ada’ complete with tutorials, detailed build instructions, and bill of materials. Check it out on their website or on Instructables, Thingiverse, and Youmagine.

The project is currently featured by editors on Instructables.

Open Bionics said they wanted to offer the robotics, maker, and 3D printing community the easiest to make open source robotic hand, and this release can be built within an hour.

Instead of spending tens of thousands on robotic hands for research robots like Baxter, Open Bionics says build your own for £500.

The Ada Hand is a fully articulated robotic hand from Open Bionics. It is a kit of parts and can be assembled in around 1 hour using standard tools. The hand has 5 degrees of freedom (DOF) and can be controlled from a PC or MAC over USB connection. The Ada hand houses all of the actuators required to move the fingers as well as its own custom control printed circuit board (PCB). The PCB is  based around the ATMEGA2560 microcontroller and can be programmed using the Arduino programming environment which will be familiar to many developers.

The Ada hand is perfect for anyone that is doing a project with robotic hands or wants a neat, light, and functional robotic hand for use with a humanoid robot.

Open Bionics’ ‘Ada’ hand is very different to the original ‘Dextrus’ hand. The print and assembly time has been made radically faster and easier.

Joel Gibbard, Open Bionics’ CEO, said the team wanted to make robot hand building easy.

“We know there are hundreds of people around the world that really want to contribute to designing a fantastic robotic hand, both for applications in robotics and in prosthetics. At the moment there is a large barrier to entry to getting involved in this project and contributing to developments. With the Ada hand we want to remove that barrier. The hand is 3D printable on an FDM desktop home printer and can be assembled in an hour, we’ve also created a developer community so people can sign up and post their developments in our forums. We’ll constantly be suggesting bite-sized projects for developers to take on and taking feedback from them about what else they need."

“I think one of the big barriers to people making and starting projects is a daunting magnitude of the build and a lack of documentation, instruction, and guidance. We are trying really hard to make sure we have detailed and easy to follow assembly instructions, comprehensive data sheets, and lots of tutorials to suit all levels of ability.

“We’re trying to make this as easy as we can for people with any level of technical ability. For example, if a researcher is studying robot interaction and needs a robot hand, but building a robot hand from scratch isn’t part of her/his project and they’re looking at affordable options, we want this build available to them and for it to be quick and easy.”

Part of this move is to encourage developers to post their research in the newly opened Open Bionics’ developer forum.

Joel added: “We receive a lot of emails from researchers who want to buy or make our hands. But we receive more emails from researchers and makers who want to contribute to our goal of making low-cost 3D printed bionic hands readily available for amputees. We’ve had a handful of researchers who have used our hands to contribute to award-winning medical research and prosthetic testing. We’re hoping that by making our robotic hands easier to make, we’re opening up the possibility for more researchers to get involved and contribute.”

Open Bionics named their robotic hand after Ada Lovelace, celebrating Lovelace’s contribution to programming.

Olly McBride, Open Bionics’ Software Engineer said: “Ada's vision was to develop the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating and number crunching, our robotic hands are an embodiment of this development as embedded programming has enabled us to programme multiple grip modes for this hand.”

This was a big release for Open Bionics. In the week since the developer forum opened they’ve had 109 makers, engineers, and amputees sign up to contribute to our research and development.

Open Bionics is an award-winning robotics company creating affordable 3D printed bionic hands for amputees. Last year they announced a deal with Disney to create official Iron Man, Star Wars, and Frozen hands for amputees.

Join the Open Bionics developer community! 3D print your own hand with a print time of 24 hours or buy an assembly kit with all components here.

3D printed, dual material, medical splint

Open Bionics has teamed up with a researcher at the University of Bristol to create a dual material, custom, 3D printed splint for people with broken wrists.

Abby Taylor and Open Bionics' mechanical engineer Jonathan Raines created an innovative 3D printed medical splint by combining PLA and Ninja Flex (a thermoplastic elastomer) with two extruders on a desktop 3D printer.

3D Printed Splint Arm Cast

Abby, who is based at the University of Bristol and has a PHD from the University of South Australia, had an idea for a lighter and more convenient cast that could greatly improve life for patients.

The researcher asked Open Bionics to help her bring her idea to life by using their 3D scanning and 3D printing methods.

Open Bionics did so by 3D scanning Abby's wrist before applying a Voronoi pattern to the model and then 3D printed a custom-fitted, dual material splint.

The design combines the strength of PLA with the flexibility and softness of the filament printed on the inside. The flexible material also acts as a living hinge, meaning patients can get in and out of the splint with ease.

Abby said: “We hope to create an alternative to conventional casting that is often heavy and impractical. We want to improve the wearer's experience.”

This first print which fit comfortably, is a sign that 3D printing could enable patients to have an improved splint that's 'way more integrative' with the daily life of the patient.

Open Bionics estimated that the material costs for the splint, which prints in one part, is just £2.

The innovative startup will be supporting Abby's research into alternative medical casting for broken or injured wrists for the next year while continuing to develop their low-cost bionic hands.

Jonathan said: “It's an interesting medical project to take a look at because it's related to our field. It's exciting doing similar work, you're looking for a solution to a different problem that could still help lots of people.”

Wounded hero with 3D printed hand

Scroll down for video and design files.

Taylor Morris Wearing Open Bionics Hand

A quadruple amputee in the US has become the first wounded soldier to wear a 3D printed bionic hand that was designed in the UK.

Taylor, who lost his limbs in an IED blast whilst serving in the military in Afghanistan, and his friend Neal have spent the last two months working on the Dextrus V1.2, - an affordable bionic hand prototype.

Neal, an engineer from Iowa, decided to 3D print a robotic hand for his friend with the goal of developing a prosthetic that was more functional and easier to use than Taylor’s current one.

Neal started by 3D printing Joel's Open Hand Projects' open-source Dextrus design with the Da Vinci 1.0 3D printer. He then fit Taylor with the bionic hand and completed his first proof of concept. It was important for Neal to test the prosthetic fit and see if Taylor could control the bionic hand.

Taylor can be seen in the video moving the Dextrus fingers by flexing his residual muscles which are covered with EMG sensors.

The engineer now plans to redesign the arm for its first full-featured build by adding a 2-axis wrist, an elbow strap with push-button tension adjustment, and additional programming to allow for switching between several grip modes.

Neal said: “In its completed form, this arm may not end up being the go-to for daily usage compared to the professional-made prosthetics that Taylor has, but that’s fine because this project will have served as the test bed for trying out new features and creating a control program to work as easily and intuitively as possible.”

“The next time Taylor is having a professional-made prosthetic arm put together, he will be able to provide this 3D-printed arm as an example of every feature and program behavior that he will want the new arm to include.”

“For our 3D-printed arm having cost between 1% and 2% of what his last prosthetic arm was, there won’t be any excuse for it not to have all of its features. The use of 3D printing and open-source programming to enable rapid prototyping at low-cost, combined with having an open-source hand design like the Dextrus available to work with, have been crucial to making this project a reality.”

Neal believes in working open-source and plans to share his adaptions and upgrades to the Dextrus design with the maker community.

Joel, who designed the Dextrus during his Open Hand Project crowd-funding campaign, said he was happy to see so many researchers using his open-source developments to make strides in prosthetic technology.

Joel added: “This was always the goal, to release my designs and have incredible engineers like Neal take them and adapt them for their own purposes and to help someone else. It’s awesome to think a design I worked on in my bedroom at my parent’s house has been downloaded and built by people I’ve never met across the world.”

"It's great that Neal is sharing his designs and ideas too. This is the fastest way to creating better prosthetics for the people who need them everywhere."

Here Neal tests the 3D printed hand's functionality and control with his own arm.

If you want to 3D print your own Dextrus, the files are waiting for you on Intructables: Dextrus V1.1 Robotic Hand.

A bionic model is born

Scroll down for video

Over the past few years the personalisation of healthcare devices has been a growing trend in the maker-sphere.

From gold-plated hearing aids, neon walking sticks, and sparkling blade prosthetics to 3D printed arm casts, people with disabilities are no longer waiting for health services to catch up, they are dragging their medical devices into the future on their own.

These medical aids are getting a long-awaited makeover and today it's the turn of the bionic hand with Open Bionics unveiling of their latest 3Dprinted prosthetic at London's 'Wearable Tech Show'.

Open Bionics, a startup of four based inside the Bristol Robotic's Laboratory's Technology Incubator, has 3D printed a custom-fitted bionic hand with enough sparkle to rival a disco ball for a woman born without a hand.

Grace Mandeville modelling open bionics robotic hand
Bionic hand holding human hand

Grace Mandeville is a YouTube starlet and CBBC actress who applauds the growing popularity for diverse prosthetics.

Grace has taken to YouTube on multiple occasions to discuss diversity and her love of inventive prosthetics that can show off a bit of her vibrant personality.

Grace said: “This is my favourite thing about this whole topic. I really love fashion, and therefor dress to illustrate my personality, so being able to wear a creative prosthetic that shows who I am seems awesome- it’s like a one off accessory that nobody else can wear, basically like vintage Chanel.”

“You should be proud of what makes you different, and I think being able to wear a fun looking prosthetic is something to be proud of! You're basically saying to the public “my arms cool and I know”.”

Grace Mandeville wearing bionic hand

Open Bionics' COO Samantha Payne said that the idea behind the Swarovski hand was to show off the possibilities for prosthetics within 3D printing.

Samantha said: “We printed Grace a socket and robotic hand in three days, and because 3D printing is so affordable we can add Swarovksi crystals and create something really eye-catching that will not break the bank. We also added four fibre optic wires to the socket so that whenever Grace closes her hand, a blue light would shoot up her 3D printed arm.”

“Prosthetics are entering the realms of fashion and we wanted to show how bionic prosthetics can be functional and fun.”

“We've been very experimental with Grace's hand. This is a completely new socket design and this is the first time we've experimented with placing the EMG sensors above the elbow. Grace is actually controlling her hand by the muscle signals from her back.”

“The idea is to give hand amputees more option and a choice to have something they'd get some enjoyment out of wearing.”

“We've been told a lot by amputees that they want something that will get a compliment not a strange stare, something far away from a 'flesh' coloured prosthetic.”

Grace Mandeville giving thumbs up with open bionics robotic hand

Grace's sister, Amelia Mandeville, said that having an attractive prosthetic could help turn something that is seen as 'negative into a positive'. Amelia echoed her sister's stance for having the option to stand out, asking “Who wants to be the same?”

Grace Mandeville Open Bionics Arm

As Grace eloquently puts it, “Why try to blend in? When you can have a piece of art as an arm instead?”

Grace was given a traditional cosmetic prosthetic when she was little and has one now but says, “I never wear it, I don't like wearing it, it gets in the way.”

Grace said: “I love what Open Bionics is doing. So many people at the 'Wearable Tech Show' thought I had a hand and that I was wearing a fashionable sleeve, making some kind of fashion statement. I had to keep pulling my arm out and showing people that I wasn't wearing some kind of glove but an actual bionic arm.”

“I found the hand really easy to operate, I tried it on for the first time Monday and I could control the hand straight away. I thought it was going to be really heavy but it wasn't. I obviously still feel the difference, I was born with a foreshorten forearm so wearing anything is going to feel different and will always be an added weight.”

“I don't ever wear prosthetics because I don't feel like I need to. I would however absolutely love a bionic hand like this for events and evening's out. I love fashion and this looks incredible.”

Open Bionics is still developing their robotic prosthetics and hope to be selling 3D printed hands within a year.

Open Bionics has won multiple awards for their open source 3D printed robotic hands and was recently named as one of the Top 50 international robotics companies to watch along with Google.

Video of Grace taken at the show by a Robin Fearon:

Read more on 3Ders3D Print Industry, and 3D Print.

Robotics mission in Japan with Prince William

Two Bristol-based robotics startups have been chosen to represent 'the best of British innovation' in Japan this week.

The 'Innovation is GREAT' campaign was opened by Prince William in Tokyo earlier today.

The robotics trade mission, put on by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), will hear from inventor Joel Gibbard, of Open Bionics, and Reach Robotics founder Silas Adekunle.

Both Joel and Silas, whose businesses are based inside the Bristol Robotics Laboratory's Tech Incubator, will showcase their inventions. 

Silas will demonstrate his spider-like 'battle' robot at the opening campaign event, and Joel will present his latest 3D printed robotic hand.

The UKTI hopes to strengthen the working relationship between academics and businesses in Japan and Britain.

A spokesperson for the British embassy said Joel is proof that 'harnessing entrepreneurial skills and design principles can lead to the development of life-changing products.'

The campaign is designed to to drive innovation, research and development, and commercial partnerships between the academic and business sectors.

A spokesperson from British Embassy said: "Great ideas flourish in Great Britain. The highest standard of universities, a well established business environment and governance, government support and incentives help make creative ideas come to life."

The UK is known for its entrepreneurship and spirit of innovation. Our discoveries, inventions and ideas have a profound impact on the world. Famous entrepreneurs include James Dyson and Richard Branson, and famous British inventions include the worldwide web, the automated teller machine (ATM), the wind-up radio which has helped share vital information in protecting against infectious diseases, and the wonder-material graphene.

Joel Gibbard demonstrating bionic hand in Japan

'Innovation is GREAT' is a year-long campaign by the British Government to build partnerships between the United Kingdom and Japan to lead positive social change in the future. The British Embassy Tokyo is launching its campaign on the occasion of the Duke of Cambridge’s visit to Japan by showcasing the best of British innovation at a series of launch events.

Joel will also give a talk at the University of Tokyo later this week about how design and innovation can be used for social change. Find out more here:

Open Bionics makes Top 50 robotics list

A South West startup has been ranked amongst Dyson, Google, and Panasonic as one of the Top 50 robotics companies to watch in 2015. 

The international RBR50 list named Open Bionics as one of the most noteworthy companies in the global robotics industry for 2015.

The Open Bionics Team

Chosen by the robotics community through the Robotics Business Review (RBR), RBR50 companies are recognized based on their innovation, groundbreaking application, commercial success and potential, and represent many different levels and facets of the robotics ecosystem.

Open Bionics was considered for their groundbreaking work into 3D printed robotic prosthetic hands.

Joel Gibbard, Open Bionics’ founder, said: “Looking at the list and seeing our startup’s name feels incredible. Pretty much every single company on the list is a company I have aspired to work for in the past and certainly aspire to match in their success in innovation in the future.”

This international compilation spans 11 countries and in addition to the large conglomerates, 20% of the list is comprised of lesser-known startups. The RBR50 list is dynamic, with robotics companies entering and leaving on an annual basis and thus creating a list that is indicative of where the global robotics industry as a whole is headed.

“2015: Year of the Inflection Point in robotics. What a great time to be counted among the global best in the fastest rising industry in the world. Once again, the robotics community has done a stellar job in selecting those few to represent all,” says Tom Green, RBR Editor in Chief.

With the robotics industry more competitive than ever, new companies are popping up all the time. Of those companies, the RBR50 list outlines those who should be kept on your business radar. 

This is the latest international recognition for the Bristol-based business after a string of recent award wins including ‘Best Product Innovation,’ at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Video: An early prototype being tested, the first time anyone has been fitted with a custom-fit robotic hand created with a 3D printer and 3D scanner. 

Most Advanced 3D Printed Robotic Prosthetic

Scroll down for a video of the world's most advanced 3D printed robotic prosthetic hand in action.

During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, Open Bionics trialled their latest 3D printed robotic hand by custom-fitting it to a man born without a right hand and have him wear it for five days straight.

Robot hand with Human hand

Daniel, aged 24, and his robotic hand were such a hit at CES that after he featured on SnapChat's live feed he received a marriage proposal.

Daniel, Open Bionics' first pilot, said of the trial: “I was feeling pretty emotional being there because it has been an amazing thing to be a part of. Because I was born without a hand, essentially I've been learning to use a hand for the first time, it's really surreal. I kept shaking hands with people, and they kept asking to high-five, fist-bump, and take photos with me. It was really nice seeing how people reacted to my robotic hand, nobody shied away and I felt like I was making up for lost time.”

Open Bionics' latest robotic hand, which is now half-the weight of current robotic prosthetics, won Computer Bild's prestigious 'Best Product Innovation' award out of all the products exhibiting at CES2015.

Dan Melville robotic high five

The Bristol-based company now plans to re-design the hand to enable the prosthetic to lift heavier weights, close its fingers around smaller objects, and enable better grasping.

The inventor of the hand, 24-year-old Joel Gibbard, said: “Another thing we're working on is making the robotic hand completely wireless. Our next step is to have a fully integrated hand that is one unit. It has to be so easy-to-use that Dan can just pick it up, put it on, start using it immediately without any wires, and then re-charge it at night.”

A hand amputee can currently operate the hand by sticking electromygraphical sensors to the skin that pick up muscle activity. An amputee has to flex their residual limb muscle to tell the robotic hand to open and close.

For Dan, this was an easy process, he said: “I just put the prosthetic on, plug in the battery pack, and stick on the EMG sensors. It's great at picking up the muscle signals. I'd say it took me about two minutes to get used to it and the sensors didn't stop working for the whole trip.”

robotic handshake with bionic hand

Daniel gave feedback during the week which will lead to certain advancements and a better functioning robotic hand.

Joel added: “It was interesting to watch someone adjust to wearing a bionic device, in the way that they used it naturally, and without thinking about it. Seeing Dan wearing the hand was a motivator because I saw that he could actually use it, and that it would be a benefit to him, just like we hoped it would. We could also see clearer the issues with it, that we now have to solve. It's a big push forward for us.”

Joel plans to drive the cost of robotic prosthetic devices down to under $1,000 by using 3D scanning to fit amputees and 3D printing to produce the prosthetics. He has previously 3D scanned an amputees' residual limb, 3D printed a custom-fitting prosthetic, and fit to a person in under five days.

Joel,who was recently named 'Britain's Design Engineer of The Year' has been shortlisted for Semta's 'Engineering Hall of Fame' for his groundbreaking work into 3D printed robotic prosthetics. Vote for Joel to win here:

Open Bionics at CES 2015

In just eight months Open Bionics has grown from a one-person, crowd-funded idea to a three-person startup that has attracted investors and technologists worldwide, and now the Bristol company is off to showcase their work at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

CES 2015 Open Bionics

From January 6th to January 9th, Las Vegas becomes the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.

This year CES will host seven wearable technology startups from the finals of Intel's 'Make It Wearable' competition, including Open Bionics. You can say hi to the team in the Intel booth at CES (LVCC, Central Hall Booth #7252).

A representative from Intel said Open Bionics had created products that "blend visionary thinking with business value."

The spokesperson added: "Intel aims to inspire and create excitement with CES visitors by showcasing - through technology demonstrations like these - that the future of wearable computing is boundless."

The Open Bionics team, Joel Gibbard, Sammy Payne, Vitória Maurício and Daniel Melville, will showcase their latest robotic hand which is now half the weight of leading robotic hands.

The company's open source work is already benefiting people globally. So far, Open Bionics' Dextrus hands have been 3D printed in the U.S.A., Canada, Ukraine, Scotland, and Australia.

Recently students from a university in Illinois, U.S.A., 3D printed a Dextrus hand for an amputee in Ecuador.

Founder Joel Gibbard said: “We were over the moon when Intel invited us to showcase our advancements at CES. It's an incredible opportunity to be on the world stage showing how innovative technologies can be used to change lives and help people."

Joel added: “We have a feeling new advancements in the field of wearable technology will be taking centre stage this year. It's going to be an exciting trip.”

Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and corporate business strategy, Consumer Electronics Association, said: “CES is becoming known as the key event for innovative startups to increase their exposure and become successful.”

CES showcases more than 3,500 exhibitors, including manufacturers, developers, and suppliers of consumer technology hardware. More than 150,000 people from more than 140 countries attend the gathering.

Many world-changing technologies have been unveiled at CES, including driverless car technology, electric car technology, 3D HDTV, 3D printing, and more.

This year will see more revelations for 3D printing, from the latest 3D printers to 'living' 3D printed dresses.

Founded in April 2014, Open Bionics has received multiple awards for its groundbreaking work in 3D printed robotic prosthetic technology.

Founder Joel Gibbard, was recently named 'British Young Design Engineer of the Year' at the British Engineering Excellence Awards, 'Founder of the Year' at The SPARKies, and has been shortlisted for Semta's 'Engineering Hall of Fame' award sponsored by Rolls Royce and Jaguar.

Open Bionics has been shortlisted for a number of technology awards and won a cash prize for Britain's 'Best Startup Business Idea'. The company also recently won the 'Prosthetic Innovation of the Year' award from the Limbless Association and placed 2nd in Intel's global 'Make It Wearable' competition, winning $200,000. The startup was publicly backed by Limbcare earlier this year.

Open Bionics hopes to work with more hand amputees and families of young amputees in 2015 after being inspired by six-year-old Charlotte Nott.