The Titan Arm is a bionic exoskeleton that helps people recovering from an injury or stroke regain their upper-body strength. It augments the user’s arm strength by 18 kg to reduce fatigue and rebuild muscle, and it comes with a backpack frame that prevents back injuries and poor lifting posture. The superhuman arm won this year’s James Dyson Award, which aims to inspire innovative design engineering.
Titan Arm was developed by engineering students at the University of Pennsylvania. The students were inspired by similar exoskeleton products such as the Ekso Bionics unit for paraplegics and the Syberdyne “Hal” suit from Japan that provides movement interpreting the wearer’s intention from biosignals. Titan Arm, however, is meant to be a cheaper, everyday solution for “occupational lifters” and people going through physical therapy. While current exoskeletons usually cost more than $100,000, Titan can be purchased for less than $2,000.
The exoskeleton has mechanical, electrical and control systems with an ergonomic form developed using CAD software, 3D printing and CNC machining. Users can control it with a joystick. The arm also incorporates sensors that help track range of motion and strength levels, which is important when dealing with people recovering from injury.
By winning the 2013 James Dyson Award, the team has received £30,000, and a further £10,000 has been awarded to the University of Pennsylvania’s engineering department.