This 3D-printed robotic hand is a cheap, useful prosthetic
IDG News Service | Jun 9, 2015
The Exiii Hackberry is a basic mechanical hand and forearm made from materials that only cost about $200. It’s designed to give amputees a cheaper alternative to prosthetics that can cost thousands of dollars.
In Japan, robots are taking matters into their own hands. This is Hackberry, the latest prototype of a 3D-printed robot hand created by Tokyo startup Exiii. It’s designed to give amputees and those born without a hand a low-cost alternative to prosthetics that can cost thousands of dollars. The Hackberry has a very simple design. It runs on an Arduino control board as well as a digital camera battery concealed in the forearm. It has three motors for the thumb and fingers. They’re controlled by an infrared sensor attached to a muscle somewhere on the user’s body. Exiii admits that the Hackberry is still fragile and, as seen in this demo, still buggy. But compared to an earlier prototype, it’s more compact and has a simpler design. Its battery life has been increased from a few hours to a full day. The main advantage, though, is that the parts only cost about $200. Most of it was made on a 3D printer and the files are open source. Google is a believer in the project, and has given Exiii a grant of $200,000 via a Japanese nonprofit group. Two Japanese have used the hand’s pinching function to do everyday tasks like zipping up a jacket and tying shoelaces. Exiii wants to keep refining the Hackberry until it’s ready to give people a hand all over the world. In Tokyo, Tim Hornyak, IDG News Service