29-year-old gamer Daniel Melville of Reading in the UK was born without his right hand, and has been wearing a 3D printed Hero Arm from Bristol-based Open Bionics. The company uses 3D printing to make more affordable bionic prosthetics for arm amputees, and Melville has been wearing one of its multi-grip Hero Arms for about three years now. But now the video game aficionado is sporting something even cooler: an official Metal Gear Solid “Venom Snake” 3D printed cover, which clips right onto his existing Hero Arm.
“This is unbelievable. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from a bionic arm,” Melville said about his brand new Metal Gear Solid Venom Snake bionic arm. “I’m an avid gamer and love Metal Gear Solid so much and to actually have Snake’s arm in real life is just insane.”
If you’re like me and don’t know anything about this video game, let me fill you in on what I’ve learned. Metal Gear Solid is a stealth game developed by publisher Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. and released for the PlayStation in 1998. The players control a character called Solid Snake, a solider who infiltrates a nuclear weapons facility in order to neutralize the terrorist threat from a renegade special forces unit.
But Venom Snake, or Punished Snake, who serves as the main protagonist in 2015’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, heads up a mercenary unit, and returns to the battlefield after he wakes up from a nine-year coma. During the explosion that put him in the coma, he had a piece of shrapnel embedded in his forehead and, most notably for this article, lost his left arm. Venom Snake wears an iconic red and black bionic arm that has all kinds of nifty capabilities, such as gadgets which with to stun enemies and a detachable missile functionality.
Konami and Open Bionics partnered to develop and release an official Metal Gear Solid “Venom Snake” bionic arm for below-elbow amputees, like Melville. The journey began in 2016, when Konami put out an ad stating that they were looking for a gamer amputee who would be interested in helping them create a new prosthetic limb being developed as a tie-in product for the launch of Metal Gear Solid 5. James Young, another UK-based Metal Gear Solid player, answered the ad and received a custom-built, 3D printed bionic arm created by alternative prosthetics artist Sophie De Oliveira Barata, who founded the Alternative Limb Project.
Melville is the very first recipient of the new Metal Gear Solid design for below-elbow amputees, which was created by Open Bionics. His 3D printed Venom Snake arm looks a little different than Young’s version, though both are pretty cool.
“We’re incredibly excited to collaborate with Open Bionics, who are at the cutting edge of robotics,” stated Takayuki Kubo, President of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. “We’re thrilled to see the iconic Metal Gear aesthetic of Venom Snake and his bionic arm burst out of the screen and come to life, in a dynamic fusion of technology and design that is changing the lives of upper limb amputees all over the world.”
Melville’s 3D printed bionic arm looks just like the real Venom Snake version, though it is obviously missing the weapon capabilities. The lightweight cover, printed out of tough nylon 12 material with SLS technology, uses magnets to clip onto the Open Bionics Hero Arm, and special sensors that detect muscle movements allow Melville to complete daily functions, such as playing Metal Gear Solid and other games.
Open Bionics’ Hero Arm is the first medically approved 3D printed bionic arm, and is available through prosthetic clinics for people ages 8 and above who have below-elbow upper limb differences. The company has printed a lot of cool, pop culture-theme Hero Arms over the last few years, such as a Star Wars version with colored LED lights, a sparkling blue arm like Elsa’s from the Disney movie Frozen, an Alita: Battle Angel Arm, the metal arm Adam Jensen wears in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and more.
If you’re interested in your own custom 3D printed Venom Snake bionic arm cover from Metal Gear Solid, you can purchase the official version for £599 on the Open Bionics website.
(Source: CNET, Images: Konami/Open Bionics)
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