When avid video gamer James Young lost his left arm in a grisly railway accident in London several years ago, video game developer Konami teamed up with leading robotics engineers to craft him an innovatively unique prosthetic. When we checked in on Young’s progress last November, Konami and prosthesis designer Sophie De Oliviera Barata intended to design the arm similarly to the prosthetic worn by the protagonist in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. After spending the past six months on the project, Young’s prosthetic is complete — and it’s even more outrageous than originally thought.
Fitted recently at Barata’s studio, Young’s prosthetic connects directly to his shoulder’s remaining nerves and muscles which control an articulated plastic hand installed to the end of the arm. As in most prosthetics, sensors attached to the skin surrounding his shoulder detect movements and send the necessary movements through the arm and hand. Standard procedure, sure, but it’s the arm’s extras which truly steal the show.
Designed and installed by a company called Open Bionics, Young’s prosthetic boasts a working flashlight, a USB port built-in to the wrist for charging a smartphone, a laser light, digital watch, and best of all: a fully functioning drone. That’s right, not only did Young regain use of his left arm with the help of Konami and a team of world-class prosthetics designers, but his new arm features an operational UAV that he can fly whenever he wants.
“I didn’t want to look like the Terminator because my job involves talking to doctors about the drugs they use, I didn’t want to look as if I’m going to kill someone,” Young told the BBC in a recent documentary.
Developed in conjunction with the Konami-created Phantom Limb Project, the hope is that it the United Kingdom will eventually medically approve the arm for use by other amputees across the country. Weighing ten pounds with both the harness and battery attached, Young’s arm isn’t necessarily light as far as prosthetics go but he did acknowledge that it doesn’t hinder him in any way. As of now, the arm will remain attached to Young via the harness though attaching it via titanium implants is likely the next step.