Open Bionics began working with the Alternative Limb Project — an organization that makes custom prosthetics designed to stand out as unique pieces of art. Young’s prosthetic is inspired by the bionic limb in “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain” that Snake uses after waking up from a nine-year coma.
Samantha Payne, Open Bionics’ co-founder, said: “The hand is a myoelectric prosthesis. This means EMG sensors read muscle activity beneath James’ skin. This activity, which James’ controls via muscle tension, signals to the hand which grip pattern to use. Essentially, James can tell the hand what to do by squeezing his shoulder muscles. Depending on how James is squeezing his shoulder muscles, he call tell the hand to perform five different programmed actions including opening and closing the fingers, pointing, and using a tripod grip. It is so exciting to see prosthetics like this come to life.”
Jonathan Raines, Open Bionics’ lead mechanical engineer, said: “This project was interesting because it was the first time we worked to create a specific look for a hand. Working with James was also a highlight. He takes all the weirdness of having electrodes stuck to him and plaster cast over his shoulders in his stride. We have to give a shout out to Fenner Drives for supplying us with NinjaFlex in a colour that wasn’t even available in the UK too, thanks team.”
Open Bionics is based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory; the biggest robotics lab in the UK. The startup has been experimenting over the past year with the idea of what bionic limbs could look like and what functions they should perform.
Last year the team produced this Swarovski covered bionic arm that lit up at night with fibre optics, before producing superhero prosthetics for kids that have superhuman functionality. The hero arms and hands light up, make sounds, and can ‘fire’ repulsor blasters and lightsabres. Open Bionics are developing bionic arms that combine art, engineering, and science fiction to offer amputees more choice.