One-handed teenage violinist receives customized 3D-printed prosthetic hand

Let’s be honest: A lot of us are geeks who love the latest technology for technology’s sake. But there’s something extra special when you hear about a use case for cutting-edge tech that isn’t just exciting on its own terms, but proves to be genuinely transformative to someone’s life.

That’s the case with a recent project carried out at Northern Illinois University: Sarah Valentiner, a one-handed, 14-year-old violin player, became the recipient of a 3D-printed hand prosthesis that allows her to play the violin with a greatly increased range of motion.

“It was an amazing, collaborative project, which potentially opens up the possibility of helping someone become the next great musician,” Federico Sciammarella, an NIU associate professor of mechanical engineering, told Digital Trends.

Constructed out of lightweight nylon and plastic, the 3D-printed prosthesis is far superior to the more traditional prosthesis Valentiner used previously, which didn’t give her full control over her violin bow.

The new prosthesis was created by one of Sciammarella’s students, 21-year-old Oluseun Taiwo, who spent this past summer working with Valentiner to create a prosthesis that met all her requirements.

Taiwo adapted designs created by e-Nable, a network comprised of volunteer designers who share designs for 3D-printed prosthetic hands. Valentiner’s family originally approached e-Nable, which put them in touch with NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

“We looked at some of the designs that e-Nable had created, with regards to bow holders and things of that sort,” Sciammarella continued. “We tried a couple, and they were good, but there were a few challenges, like the fact that you had to disconnect and reconnect the bow each time. We wanted something that wouldn’t have to be disassembled every time, so … Taiwo worked on a modification. What he came up with looked a little sleeker, and was also more lightweight and comfortable.”

Sciammarella said 3D printing was transformative in this case, not just because it meant Valentiner’s prosthesis could be easily customized, but because this process can continue into the future.

“What’s great about 3D printing in this case is that we were able to make something that was uniquely fitted to her,” he said. “Even if we have to make modifications as Sarah grows older, these are things that can be simply done, which you wouldn’t be able to do with other technologies. 3D printing was also great because it meant we could do multiple iterations and variations over a 4 to 5 month period. That just wouldn’t be possible using other manufacturing methods.”

Emerging Tech

Replaced by robots: 10 jobs that could be hit hard by the A.I. revolution

According to one study, 47 percent of current jobs in the United States could be automated within the next two decades. Here are 10 examples of the kind of employment that refers to.
Product Review

'NBA 2K19' will dunk on you, but don’t worry. You’re going to like it.

NBA 2K19 makes smart changes that force you to dig deep into your bag of tricks to succeed. This might be the most accurate virtual version of NBA basketball yet.
Product Review

From water cooling to a supercapacitor, the Galaxy Note 9 overflows with tech

The Galaxy Note 9 is here, and it’s jaw-dropping how much tech Samsung has outfitted inside this phone -- granted, it’s one of Samsung’s largest phones ever thanks to its 6.4-inch screen. Here’s our Note 9 hands-on impressions.
Product Review

The Even H3 Wireless headphones offer custom sound, but have their quirks

The Even H3 Wireless offer similar looks and the same custom tuning as their slightly larger predecessor, but they aren’t without their own special quirks when it comes to day to day usability.
Emerging Tech

Soft robotic hand gives scientists new grip on deep sea life

A team of roboticists and marine biologists from Harvard University have created a sampling device that’s soft and flexible for grabbing fragile organisms, and can be 3D printed for easy customization.
Emerging Tech

By studying patient data, A.I. can limit toxicity in cancer treatment

In a bid to improve quality of life for cancer patients, a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have turned to machine learning to help avoid toxicity from cancer medications.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe sets out to try and ‘touch’ the sun

A NASA probe launched on a journey to take measurement of the atmosphere of the Sun, hopefully uncovering crucial details about the origins of the solar winds generated there.
Emerging Tech

The Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend! Here’s how to watch

Thanks to a new moon, 2018's Perseid Meteor Shower will be much easier to view, with even the dimmest meteors observable by the naked eye. Here's how to see the show this weekend, and where the views will be the best.
Emerging Tech

Don’t get burned! How to back crowdfunding projects the smart way

In the world of crowdfunding, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. There's a million reasons why a project might fail. But with this handy guide, you'll be able to spot the signs of a sketchy project and decrease your chances of getting…
Emerging Tech

‘Rogue medicine in a bathtub’: 4 experts on the vice and virtue of pharma hacking

A biohacker, pharmahacker, and two bioethicists walk into a bar. We ordered them a metaphorical round and had a chat about the risks and rewards of DIY medicine — from unsanctioned gene therapy to medication made on the kitchen counter.
Emerging Tech

Stanford A.I. can realistically score computer animations just by watching them

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a computer system that’s able to synthesize realistic sounds for 3D animation, based entirely on its knowledge about the physical world.
Emerging Tech

No keyboard? No problem. Masterkey will project you a virtual one to type on

Miss having a physical keyboard when you're out and about? Wish you could have a mobile display bigger than your smartphone can offer? Masterkey 4.0 is a wireless projector that promises to help.
Cars

You don’t need to go autonomous to make trucking safer

Long haul truckers are very good at their jobs, but they face long hours and unpredictable conditions. Autonomous tech may be coming, but here’s how lidar technology companies are working to enhance trucking safety today.