Jan 16, 2019 | By Cameron

In March of 2013, I interviewed Easton LaChappelle about his first foray into 3D printed prosthetics; his original prototype employed a Nintendo Power Glove. Now, six years later, his company Unlimited Tomorrow is showing off one of the world’s most advanced prosthetic arms at CES 2019. The feature-packed 3D printed arm is currently available for $10,000 with plans to reduce the cost to $5,000 within a year.

$10k may sound like a lot, but a typical prosthetic with motorized motion can cost up to $100,000. And many of those models don’t come with the features of the Unlimited Tomorrow arm, such as:

  • Skin tone matching

  • Muscle sensors

  • Adaptive grip

  • Force feedback

  • AI control system

  • Wireless charging

  • Individual finger control

  • 3-4 day battery life

Images credit: Martin Fuentes / Dailymail

It also weighs only 1.5 pounds, a fifth of the weight of similar prosthetics. Ella Scarchilli handles the marketing of Arrow Electronics, a supply partner of Unlimited Tomorrow who shared a CES booth with them. She explains the advanced sensor and motion system, “We have advanced muscle sensors that are within the socket. You can flex your muscle and it reads that and turns it into an action for your fingers.” And artificial intelligence monitors the sensors to improve accuracy over time.

“We just put an AI control system within it, so that if you're doing the same movements a lot daily – like drinking coffee, writing, etc – it's going to automatically realize those movements and store it,” Scarchilli states. “Then, it's going to automatically do it.”

The team constantly seeks out feedback from users to incorporate into later versions, as Scarchilli relates, “We go straight to the consumer because we care what they want – it’s their arm, it’s not the new iPhone XS Max.”

Zoe is one of those consumers and she wrote a three-page letter full of ideas for upgrades, some of which made it into the CES display model. “That's exactly what we want, because at the end of the day, we're not amputees and we don't know,” Scarchilli says. “She wanted more movement in her wrist because it was very stiff, so the motors were transferred into the hand so she could move more. She wanted nails that you can interchange between short and long, so these are magnetized so you can take them off and on – you can even get them painted, with UV and gel.”

Unlimited Tomorrow just completed an Indiegogo campaign where they provided 100 prosthetic arms to 100 amputees. 3D printing is driving increased accessibility to high-end tech, but it’s people like Easton and Ella that are making it happen. “We have really great technology,” she adds, “but we're for the people.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application

Source: Dailymail


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