Prosthetic limb technology has taken a magical turn with a new line of bionic arms modeled after Frozen, Marvel, and Star Wars characters. Disney, parent company of these franchises, has granted royalty-free licenses and additional support to Open Bionics, a startup working to provide affordable, 3D printed prosthetic hands for amputees.
Open Bionics first began its collaboration with Disney when it was selected for the 2015 Disney Accelerator program. Based at the Bristol Robotics Labs in the UK, Open Bionics has received capital, guidance, and advocacy from Disney in its development of low-cost prosthetic hands. The hands are fully robotic and responsive to the user’s movements.
The three Disney models will be available in 2016 at the relatively low cost of $500. Eager users can choose from Iron Man’s fist, complete with fireable rocket, Queen Elsa’s frosted blue gloves, or a model that purports to be from Star Wars, though does not appear similar to those represented in the films. Although acquiring a prosthetic limb is a Skywalker tradition, the Open Bionics hand is modeled after any of the Skywalker hands. If the reader can identify which model the Star Wars hand is based on, please pass it forward to this currently clueless Star Wars nerd.
Open Bionics is thrilled to have the support of Disney as it works to make the world a better place. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get support and mentorship,” says Samantha Payne, COO of Open Bionics. However, according to Open Bionics CEO Joel Gibbard, pursuing one’s passion does not require the support of a multinational corporation. “If someone wants to get involved with something they’re interested in, the best way to do that is just to start doing it,” says Gibbard. “Follow tutorials, start making things, engage with communities. The more you do that, the better you’ll become and eventually you’ll get lucky like me and find yourself doing what you love for a living!”