The main aim of Handie, already a James Dyson award nominee, was to develop an artificial hand that offered a large degree of functionality without the brutal prices associated with prosthetics. With the latest model, it apparently skirts below a $400 price tag, substituting a smartphone for previously dedicated processing hardware as well as 3D printing. The use of printable parts makes Handie repairable, meaning it should last as long (or possibly longer) as models that use substantially more expensive materials. Because all the components (aside from the motors) can be printed, it means customization, design improvements and repairs are all possible -- and cheaply too. The team also has a customized mechanism for finger flexing, reducing the number of motors needed to just one per three-segment digit.
These single motors are still able to passively change direction of fingers depending on the shape of an object. The heavy thinking is all assigned to a companion app on a nearby smartphone, which cuts the costs once again. The prosthetic makers demonstrated the Handie's capabilities at an early press event for this weekend's Maker Faire Tokyo. After working on prosthetics in college, development has focused on the fact that high functionality might not be the biggest priority, especially for users that may require two hand replacements, bringing us back to Handie's simple aim: "sufficient functions at an affordable price." Compare and contrast the rougher fresh-from-the-3D-printer model against a glossier Portal-ish version in our gallery below, and check out the full video explanation after the break.
Handie prosthetic at Maker Faire Tokyo