Most prosthetic manufacturers build their products with a certain amount of blandness so their artificial limbs won’t stand out. So much effort is put into making them appear natural that some artificial limbs are so real realistic that they are indistinguishable from a real limb when viewing them at a distance. While most manufacturers take this realistic approach, UK limb maker Open Bionics is going to the opposite extreme, creating brightly colored, kid-friendly prosthetic hands that are branded after popular superheroes and movie characters.
The company unveiled it hand designs this week during the Disney Accelerator Demo Day. Powered by Techstars, the Disney Accelerator program provides funding and resources to technology innovators. During the three-month program, entrepreneurs are provided with $120,000 in capital and receive mentorship from Disney’s executive leadership. At the end of the program, participants then present their inventions and services to a group of investors, fellow entrepreneurs, industry leaders and Disney executives in an annual Demo Day event.
Not only is The Walt Disney Company consulting on the project, it’s also providing a royalty-free license to Open Bionics, allowing them to use the company’s popular assets –like characters from the movie Frozen– in their limb design. This allowed Open Bionics to design its prosthetics without having to pay additional fees for its child-friendly designs. Also providing their expertise were Industrial Light & Magic’s xLAB division and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Open Bionics used the program to develop its affordable 3D-printed hands that will turn an amputee into a superhero. The three fun themes include an Iron Man bionic hand that’ll let a child pretend he is an inventor Tony Stark, a Frozen-themed sparkly blue and white hand, and a Star Wars light saber limb. Seriously — what kid wouldn’t love to have an arm like Iron Man or a gloved hand like Elsa?
Besides his superhero designs, Open Bionics founder Joel Gibbard also is responsible for the Open Hand project, an open source project that provides free plans for creating prosthetics using ABS plastic and 3D printing.