Mark Hamill speaking to Bella, who is the first one to wear the R2D2 bionic hand cover in the United States. (Image Credit: OpenBionics/YouTube)
OpenBionics, a company that specializes in building bionics for amputees, has recently released an R2D2 bionic cover arm for Star Wars fans. One of the recipients wearing the R2D2 arm is an 11-year old devoted Star Wars fan who also received a Skype call from Mark Hamill, who retweeted her fundraiser for the bionic arm. She managed to raise nearly $14,000 from this campaign.
After the campaign, the fan, Bella Tadlock, became the very first person in the United States to receive and wear the bionic arm in R2D2 style. She then met Mark Hamill on a Skype video call and demonstrated the hand’s capabilities by picking up a bottle and gesturing “OK” signs.
The medically certified 3D-printed bionic arm contains sensors that detect signals in the limb, allowing the wearer to control it with life-like precision. It contains multi-grip functionality with powerful aesthetics. The myoelectric prosthesis is also lightweight, affordable and uses haptic vibrations, beepers, buttons, and lights to provide the wearer with notifications.
The wearer can control the bionic hand by tensing the muscles that open and close a biological hand. To close the hand and perform a selected grip, the wearer flexes the wrist inwards while pulling the fingers into the heel of the hand. Opening the hand will just require them to extend the wrist with an outstretched palm. To manipulate small and/or delicate objects, the wearer’s muscles will need to be gently tensed, allowing quicker movements.
There are 4 different grip patterns in the 3 motor version and 6 different grip patterns in the 4 motor version. In order to make it easier to switch between each grip pattern, the hand was designed for them to be grouped together. Switching between grips requires the wearer to open the hand and hold the open signal for more than a second. The wearer will then feel a long vibration, with the Hand Button flashing green a few times, indicating the selected grip number. One flash represents the first grip in the group and two flashes represent the second grip in the group. Switching between different grips requires the wearer to press the Hand Button.
They will then feel a short vibration, and the Hand Button will blink purple a few times, indicating the group selected group number. One flash represents group one and the two flashes represents the second group.
Each arm is built using custom 3-D printing and 3-D scanning technology. It’s also robust and comfortable enough for the wearer to fit into the socket, while also making it adjustable and breathable. It’s also powered by high-performance motors, advanced software and long-lasting batteries. It can enable the wearer to lift up to 8kg, as well.
"We’re delighted that Bella loves her new R2-D2 arm, and it’s fantastic that Mark Hamill, who is a role model to limb-different children worldwide, is so proactive in letting these kids know that they have the admiration and support of one of the galaxy’s biggest heroes.", said Samantha Payne, co-founder of OpenBionics.
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