Open Bionics create Disney-Themed 3D Printed Bionic Arms for Little Heroes
By Johny Ho on Friday, October 16, 2015
Not exactly a stunt, but a remarkable way of extending a company’s brand and products, in this case using valuable IPs they own.
As a part of the Disney Accelerator program, UK startup Open Bionics has been developing Disney-inspired bionic limbs for children who have lost them. The company is building these bionics in the hopes that kids get excited about prosthetics, as the idea of having a robotic hand and arm can be quite daunting for someone so young.
Open Bionics 3D printed bionic hands inspired by Iron Man’s hand, a Star Wars lightsaber hand and a hand inspired by Queen Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, the Snowflake hand.
“Now kids can get excited about their prosthetics. They won’t have to do boring physical therapy, they’ll train to become heroes. They’re not just getting medical devices, they’re getting bionic hands inspired by their favorite characters. The Walt Disney Company is generously donating the time of its creative teams and providing royalty free licenses. More designs coming soon!”, says Open Bionics on their website.
The Disney Accelerator program is a partnership between Boulder, Colo.-based startup accelerator Techstars with The Walt Disney Company concluding its 2nd year that aims to “helping today’s technology innovators turn their dreams for new media and entertainment experiences into reality.”
The superhero prosthetic arm project is part of founder Joel Gibbard’s larger vision of prostheses design. After he created the open source Open Hand Project, he began talking to prostheses users about what was most important to them in a prosthesis.
His research determined that people were more concerned with the weight and look of the prosthetic hand than the amount of fine motor control that it had. Many users additionally must rely on using a claw rather than a realistic hand due to the costs involved. This led him to change his focus to improving the aesthetics and reducing the weight of the artificial hand, envisioning a prosthesis as a tool or fashion accessory, rather than a literal interpretation of a human arm.
In this train of thought, a superhero prosthetic arm becomes the perfect accessory for a child. Gibbard relates seeing child amputees try to hide cosmetic hands (a prosthesis that isn’t functional but merely decorative) because of a feeling of seeming different or refusing to wear one because of its heft. But a superhero-inspired prosthetic hand transforms a medical device into an imaginative statement.