Feb 22, 2016 | By Alec

We’ve already seen a number of heartwarming stories of children with a disability or missing limbs being given a 3D printed prosthetic, but none of those are as strange as the story of how James Young received his 3D printed prosthetic. The 25-year-old Londoner simply responded to an unusual advertisement: applications had to be amputees who love gaming, live in the UK and be interested in wearing a futuristic prosthetic. The result? A fantastic bionic arm prosthetic inspired by the Metal Gear Solid video game franchise.

It really is an unusual event, for which the results were unveiled at BodyHacking Con 2016 in Texas a few days ago. Amputee James Young, who lost an arm and a leg in a rail accident in 2012, was picked out of 60 responses, and received a high tech bionic prosthetic, designed by a team led by London-based prosthetic sculptor Sophie de Oliveira Barata and featuring bionic technology from Bristol-based Open Bionics, who are well known for pioneering 3D printed prosthetics. The carbon-fiber prosthetic cost around £60,000 (or about $85,000) to make.

But Young knew immediately that he had a pretty good chance at being chosen. Loving gaming so much, he even taught himself how to use a video-game controller with just one hand and his teeth. ““How many amputee gamers can there be?” he wondered. He is also very fascinated with the results, calling the synthetic limb life-changing – also because he will suddenly enter the spotlights.

More importantly, the bionic 3D printed prosthetic comes with numerous options that simple mechanical prosthetics (like his own medical prosthesis) don’t have. For one, it is quite a dexterous prosthetic, capable of grabbing bottles, giving a thumbs-up and shaking hands. The arm also comes with a built-in torch, laser, and LED lights that can be programmed into different patterns – and can even be synchronized to his heartbeat. The bionic arm also has a USB port in its wrist, through which phones can be charged and data can be uploaded to the display panel (mounted on the forearm). The arm essentially doubles as a pc, capable of reaching the internet, and allows the wearer to check his email and much more. Most remarkable, the arm even serves as a mount of a tiny drone that can be controlled through the panel.

All that is packaged in a very impressive design. As hardcore fans will know, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain sees protagonist Snake awake from a coma to learn that his left arm needs to be replaced with a synthetic limb capable of, among other things, shocking and punching opponents. Snake, of course, is a tough soldier/spy in every respect, and Young didn’t want to look like a killing machine himself. Fortunately, designer Ms de Oliveira Barata and game publisher Konami also preferred a more modest design.

It is, of course, a bit strange to see a game developer sponsor prosthetics, but Ms de Oliveira Barata said the company didn’t want to enforce a particular design onto the wearer. “James’s arm is completely bespoke, and it was really important for all of us that it encapsulated his idea of what he wanted from a prosthetic,” she said to The Independent. A Konami spokesperson further said the project is a kind of “social piece” that emphasizes that even disabilities can be overcome through positive thinking. The result is a sleeker design than the in-game prosthetic, a different color – and obviously it is not able to ‘rocket punch’ bystanders. “I don’t think I’m Snake,” said Young. “Pretty much everyone in his team has had some sort of terrible accident and they’re all very bitter about it and embarking on a big revenge spree. That’s definitely not me.” But it does look fantastic.

 

 

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one-armed-bandit wrote at 2/27/2016 6:44:40 PM:

I have a real problem with the "number of heartwarming stories of children with a disability or missing limbs being given a 3D printed prosthetic" because the adults doing the "giving" *pity* the kids because they are "not able". They are actually *crippling* these kids. Full disclosure: I was born without half of my left forearm and left hand. My parents *explicitly* ignored it, and did not let me use it as an excuse. As a result, I am an engineer, a maker, and build houses for a hobby. My parents would have told those "do gooders" to shove off. Now, an adult is a different story. I *do* think adult amputees should learn to do things without a prosthetic, because if your life depends on being able to do something, and the prosthetic is broken or stolen (or otherwise missing), then the adult is a cripple. But an adult should have the option if s/he wishes. And the result *is* pretty bad-ass.



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