As has been the case for decades now, bionics for many of us still connote futuristic superhero magic on par with iconic 70s characters Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers. Offering mechanics that work in place of normal biological working parts, the ‘magic’ of bionics can offer a new lease on life for individuals, where once it truly was just a fantastical concept. And combining the technology with 3D printing seems a likely match, offering a power punch of innovation in the medical science industry–and functionality where previously there was none for the disabled.
The team at Open Bionics is taking the science and technology combination to the limit, offering an incredible way to elevate the quality of life for disabled individuals with 3D printed bionic hands. In doing so, they’ve also recently been nominated for not just one, but two awards from Tech4Good Awards for their latest inventions.
No strangers to accolades, as we’ve reported previously, the company has historically been known for the 3D printing of robotic prostheses. Recently, founder Joel Gibbard won the Best Product Innovation award from Germany’s Computer Bild, with the original 3D printed robot hand being viewed as the most important prosthetic to date. The first iteration of Open Bionic’s robotic 3D printed hand met with great success as their first recipient, 24-year-old Daniel Melville, received it and used it enthusiastically.
Open Bionics works under the Bristol Robotics Laboratory within the Technology Business Incubator, which is an obviously beneficial program offering allowing for a ‘visionary pilot program to stimulate and support technology start-ups.’ Open Bionics has been able to not only to develop a business model, but change lives–as well as the future of prosthetic designs.
Recently though, their work has been taken to new heights and has gained them new recognition via their lead modeler, Vitória Maurício. Due to the foundation Open Bionics has already created, and Vitória’s art in creating work that is biomimetic (imitating real life), Open Bionics has given some lucky individuals new hands that boast not only a mixture of 3D printing and bionics, but look much more normal, resulting in giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘wearable electronics.’
Both Vitória and the startup are finalists for the Young People’s Award and the Accessibility award, respectively, with voting ongoing now at Tech4GoodAwards. It’s certainly no surprise to see awards and nominations beginning to pile up for Open Bionics as they offer incredible new opportunity to the disabled.
Vitória’s work is important not only in the fact that she is making functional robotic hands, but also in that she can produce them for delivery in just two days, 3D printing them in two parts. This is a far cry from recent technology which would take at least weeks to get to a patient, not to mention years past when this technology was inconceivable altogether.
“I was flattered for the acknowledgement, and very grateful that the value of my contribution to a very new field is recognized,” said Vitória . “Uniting creative and scientific principles is now being more valued and I really appreciate that.”
Now, Vitória is responsible for changing the life of an amputee and has the honor of having her designs reproduced all around the world. That’s called making a serious difference–and it wouldn’t be possible with the technology of 3D printing and robotics.
“Working in the tech industry has been amazing, as it really motivates me to work with people from different backgrounds and develop innovative concepts that could not exist without a multidisciplinary approach,” said Vitória. “Technology for good is about using your creativity and technical skills for something you really believe in, and I feel like that is when you do your best work.”
Will you be voting this year at Tech4GoodAwards? How do you see 3D printing and robotics as changing the face of medicine in the future? Discuss in the 3D Printed Robotic Hand forum over at 3DPB.com.
To vote for Vitória Maurício in this year’s People’s Award category, vote here, and follow on Twitter (tweet using the hashtag #T4GVitóriaMaurício). To vote for Open Bionics in this year’s People’s Award category, vote here, and follow on Twitter (tweet using the hashtag #T4GOpenBionics).