3D Printed Smart Wristband ‘Shortcut’ to help amputees

People with limited ability or those with missing limbs often find it difficult to execute tasks like clicking a mouse or moving a cursor around the trackpad quite difficult than what it might appear to a normal person. However, a team of German students have brought new hope for the amputees with their latest 3D printed smart wristband, named ‘Shortcut’ that is capable of communicating wireless gestures through muscle movements. This wristband consists of two parts – the 3D printed band which can be attached to the prosthetic just like a wristwatch and consists of an optical sensor, and a second band comprising Myo sensors that can be fitted halfway up the forearm.

3D Printed Smart Wristband

The first wristband has been injection molded with its initial prototypes being designed using 3D printing and allows the wearer to use his/her prosthetic hand as a mouse by moving it in a planar motion. This planar motion in fact helps in effectively controlling the mouse where it moves on the screen. The forearm band leveraging on its Myo gesture control technology assists the wearer in sending commands to click and scroll to the mouse. Myo technology is also being very widely used by prosthetics for recognizing muscle signals. The innovative device has been designed by three brilliant students - Lucas Rex, David Kaltenbach, and Maximilian Mahal, all pursuing design at the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin. They have managed to launch ‘Shortcut’ in collaboration with Ottobock and Fab Lab Berlin.

 ‘Shortcut’ 3D Wristbands Pick Up Phantom Gestures to Make Movements Possible

Even in case of missing limbs, for instance, a missing hand, the arm muscles can still make movements which can be realized with a phantom limb. The Myo wristband is capable of picking these phantom gestures owing to its superior sensors that detect muscle movements within the prosthetic and translate them into mouse commands. A phantom pinch is recognized by the wristband as a click and bending the wrist could make the mouse scroll.

3D Printed Smart Wristband

However, the Shortcut device is currently in its prototyping stage and will be released in a wireless version by the students. Innovator Mahal explains, “We are using a Myo bracelet for the current prototype, however we plan to use more sophisticated myoelectric sensors somewhere in the near future. We want to develop a more reliably working prototype for intensive user testing with amputees, in order to refine the concept and design.”

Although it is far from being commercialized, the device has already started achieving accolades like the STARTS prize awarded by Ars Electronica and the Mart Stam Förderpreis. For the latest, best-in-class 3D printers, click here!



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