What is Open Bionics?

There are people all around the world that may loose limbs for various reasons — wars, illness, and accidents being the three major ones. Artificial limbs do alleviate a part of the loss these folks experience, but often, their high cost means not all can afford a prosthetic limb. Open Bionics is a company making affordable bionic arms, making kids feel like superheroes.

A start-up tech company in the UK, Open-Bionics is changing the way people see prostheses. The 3-D printed prostheses Open Bionics makes are nearly 30-times cheaper than those available in the market are. Their biggest advantages are the myoelectric sensors that attach to the skin for detecting muscle movements. Detection of muscle movement controls the artificial hand in closing and opening fingers.

The bionic arms that Open Bionics makes are custom-built for individual children and require about 40 hours for manufacturing them. As the child grows, a revolutionary socket adjusts to the changing size. As these are small and lightweight, children as young as eight can use the bionic arms with ease.

According to the COO and co-founder of Open Bionics, Samantha Payne, they work with the NHS for creating prosthetics that are affordable and highly functional. These are meant especially for children, and come with removable covers—allowing them to choose whether they want to be Queen Elsa, or an Avenger today.

The company has a royalty-free agreement with Disney. That means they can base the removable covers on the bionic arms on characters from Star Wars, Frozen, Iron Man, and more—this can be life changing for small children, as Samantha Payne assures. For instance, Tilly Lockey, who is testing the latest model from Open Bionics, has a prototype hand themed on Deus Ex, a video game.

Open Bionics builds assistive devices offering people who use them greater freedom and independence. Moreover, as the devices are affordable, it brings bionic technology within the reach of most patients. That is why trials of bionic arms are reaching children as young as eight.

Most available prostheses do not suit young patients, as they are either way too big or very expensive. The 3-D printed bionic limbs from Open Bionics are different as they are custom-built to suit small sizes, and they are affordable. Samantha Payne feels highly satisfied seeing a young child moving their fingers individually for the first time.

Rather than making a drab skin-colored artificial limb, Open Bionics is making their arms belong to the science fiction universe. With themes from Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel, kids feel proud when wearing their prostheses. As these arms are sleek and super stylish, amputee children can identify them with their personalities and that is what makes them and the people at Open Bionics so excited.

At Open Bionics, the task begins with scanning the person’s limb using a tablet. A plan for the design of the prostheses follows, leading to a 3-D printout. The result is a low-cost, multi-grip, and lightweight bionic arm with great control. The royalty-free theme designs make the device hyper-personalized. The presence of nearly 5 million upper-limb amputees worldwide gives an estimate of the market potential for Open Bionics.