Open Bionics, an advanced robotic hand for amputees, has been selected as the 2015 winner of the UK leg of the James Dyson Award.
Open Bionics' low-cost robotic hands can be printed and assembled in four manufactured parts, produced in about 40 hours and costs under £1,000 – compared to standard advanced prosthetics which can cost anything from £3,000 to £60,000. The low-cost robotic hands can perform the same tasks as expensive, advanced prosthetics, including individual finger movement through the use of electromyographical sensors which are stuck to the amputee's skin.
The design engineer behind Open Bionics is Joel Gibbard, a 25-year-old robotics graduate from Plymouth University. He will receive £2,000 – he will use the money to speed up the prototyping process by purchasing a new 3D printer – and advances to the international stage of the competition.
Gibbard said: “We’ve encountered many challenges in designing our hands but the reactions of the individuals we help fuels our perseverance to bring them to market. My aim is for Open Bionics to disrupt the prosthetics industry by offering affordable prosthetics for all.”
James Dyson added: “3D printing has been used by engineers as a prototyping tool for decades, but Joel is using it in a new way to provide cheaper, more advanced prosthetics for amputees. It shows how bold ideas don't need a big budget and if successful his technology will improve lives around the world."
This year's runners up are:
Repurposing Kitchen Waste by James Seers, product design, Brunel University. The system uses a combination of nanopolymer coated filters to separates fat, oils and grease from water allowing them to be repurposed into biodiesel.
Giraffe Reader by Sam Jewell, Innovation Design Engineering, Royal College of Art. The reader perfectly positions an iPhone so that the device can scan text on paper accurately, enabling near perfect text-to-speech translation. This enables blind people to read documents independently, quickly and easily.
Post Biotics by Vidhi Mehta, Innovation Design Engineering, Royal College of Art. This tool kit encourages the discovery of new antibiotics. The pop-up lab, allows school students to participate in discovering substances with antimicrobial values by testing locally available plants, vegetables, fruits, fungi and soil.
Less Leaves by Ross Whillis, Product Design, Ravensbourne. This manual leaf collector removes leaves from a gravel surface without displacing or removing the gravel.
Open Bionics and the UK national runners up will progress to the next stage of the James Dyson Award: engineer shortlisting. Dyson engineers will whittle down 100 entries from around the world down to just 20. The results of this stage will be announced on 17 September 2015. The international winner will be awarded £30,000 to develop their invention.