It looks like the least expected, and most welcome, new trend in video games is helping to design prosthetic arms to coincide with the release of games featuring upper-limb amputees. A few weeks ago Japanese video game publisher Konami helped a 26 year old amputee get a new bionic arm styled after Punished Snake, the armless protagonist from the latest installment of their Metal Gear Solid series of video games. The design and fitting of the arm was chronicled by the BBC for a documentary special, and the arm was created by Open Bionics and high-fashion, alternative prosthetic limb designer Sophie De Oliveira Barata.
3D printed prosthetic limb developer Open Bionics is teaming up with Eidos-Montréal, the publisher of the Deus Ex series of action role playing games, to create a line of inexpensive, high-tech bionic arms. The prosthetic limbs will be styled after the futuristic world depicted in the series’ latest installment called Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The games have always been set in futures full of human augmentation and cybernetic enhancements, so for the latest installment Eidos-Montréal was creating promotional material that depicted people living with futuristic cybernetic limbs. According to Deus Ex Universe Brand Manager Andre Vu, the company began receiving messages from people asking for more information about their high tech prosthetics.
Unfortunately Eidos-Montréal is just a video game company, so they were not actually producing prosthetics. But because enough people were asking they decided to look into it, which lead to their partnership with Open Bionics. They will be producing two different models of prosthetic arms, one based on the arm worn by Adam Jensen, the main character of Mankind Divided, and a second based on the aesthetic design sense of the world as depicted in the video game. Both arms will be released sometime next year as open source designs that can be downloaded and built for free using Open Bionics components. As with all of their designs, Open Bionics also encourages users to modify the design to suit their individuals’ needs, or to just improve the basic design.
The Deus Ex Universe arm is a stunning design that is highly stylized and looks more like jewelry than a working prosthetic device. The sharp angles and odd geometry make it seem as if the entire limb has been carved from a single piece of metal. While the Adam Jensen prosthetic is a more conventional bionic arm design, it is still quite stylish and futuristic. Unfortunately it probably won’t contain any of the high tech weapons and gadgets of the arm in the game, so no blowing up rival cyborgs, but it will certainly look like it came right out of the video game.
While any versions that users 3D print on their own can, and will, be any color combination that they wish, the prototype designs are a dark, metallic gray with ornate gold details. Currently Open Bionics has only released computer renders of the arms, but according to CEO Joel Gibbard they do have working prototypes. While the number of people who will be able to use and wear these bionic limbs is probably limited, it’s still pretty great that amputees are being given the option to wear such amazing prosthetic devices. This may be a marketing stunt, but it is still providing people access to inexpensive bionic prosthetic limbs that are certain to get them noticed.
Here is a video about the collaboration between Open Bionics and Eidos-Montréal:
Open Bionics plans to accompany Eidos-Montréal to several gaming shows and conventions with their their bionic limbs in tow, including E3 and Gamescom. The limbs will be featured at installations featuring technology from Razer, a gaming peripheral company that will be using their Stargazer webcam to track guests’ movements and allow them to control the arms. This will allow them to get a sense of what it would be like to actually control an artificial limb. Stargazer incorporates Intel’s cutting-edge Real Sense motion capture technology, so the movements will happen in real time with little to no lag. You can learn more about the Augmented Future Initiative from Open Bionics and Eidos-Montréal here. Discuss further in the Bionic Arm forum over at 3DPB.com.