If we were to have sat down as kids and sketched our dream cyborg on the back of an envelope, a bionic Nerf gun arm would almost certainly have been part of the mix. Thank goodness, then, for Paris and New York-based hacker collective Hackerloop, who have made just such a dream into a wonderful reality.
“We made this for our friend Nicolas Huchet, aka Bionico,” Hackerloop “founder and tinkerer” Valentin Squirelo told Digital Trends.
At 18, Huchet suffered an accident which left him with a myoelectric prosthetic hand. During a visit to Hackerloop’s headquarters, a joke about how to improve Huchet’s Nerf-playing abilities ended with the team connecting a Nerf gun to an electromyogram (EMG) sensor and Adafruit Trinket Arduino.
The results? “When our friend contracts the muscle on his forearm, the sensor measures the electrical activity generated,” Squirelo said. “If this muscular signal reaches a preset threshold, it triggers the Nerf mechanism. It stops when the signal goes below the threshold — [in other words, when] the muscle isn’t contracted anymore.”
It’s a fun hack, which currently exists as a functional prototype, although according to Squirelo it may not stay that way for too much longer. “We’re planning to release a polished version in February,” he said.
He described the project as something which epitomizes Hackerloop’s philosophy of a group of product designers, engineers, and writers, “who love to meet and experiment on crazy ideas.”
“We don’t have a proper mission or goal, other than promoting creativity and ideas of all kinds,” he said. “Think of it as an attempt to give every weekend project a chance to come to life and entertain others in the process. We think learning and creating are vital to a lot of people, and we want to create the space where they can come and give life to their craziest ideas, free from the usual constraints.”
Who can argue with that way of thinking? Especially when they have a bionic Nerf gun on their side.