The future is today, not tomorrow. This is the impression you get reading about the recent developments in technology. Self-driving cars, intelligent robots and virtual reality… not long ago, these were just dreams and fantasies movie studios and science-fiction authors came up with. The same goes for the international movement that promotes transhumanism. It’s about using modern technology to overcome our natural limitations and augment our inherent abilities. This idea isn’t new, if you think about it. Things like glasses, hearing aids and cardiac pacemakers have done exactly this for a long time. But today’s possibilities far exceed these traditional advancements in the realm of healthcare.
At Global Female Leaders 2017 Samantha Payne from Open Bionics will show us, how her company tries to provide humanity with affordable and high-quality bionic limbs.
Let’s take a closer look at the topic now!
Will we all become Robots one day?
One of the most fascinating outlooks in the transhumanist debate is whether people will one day become half machine. Whether they will remove their limbs by choice, and instead get bionic replacements that are more durable, stronger and have other advantages that we are dreaming up right now. Think bionic eyes with the built-in functionality of Google Glasses.
Of course right now bionics isn’t there yet, and futurologists are the ones thinking about this topic and its ethical implications. In practice bionics are more relevant in medicine today. They are used to replace or enhance organs or body parts with mechanical versions of them in order to help people with disabilities. Many of these are still in their infancy, but there are astonishing examples of how technology can help make our lives better in this field.
Meet Samantha Payne – Maybe she can lend you a Bionic Hand
Samantha Payne is one of the most fascinating people in the tech industry. She is a WIRED Innovation Fellow and co-founded the company Open Bionics, a start-up that encapsulates many of the concepts that make modern businesses so interesting.
The idea behind Open Bionics is to provide customers with bionic hands that are not only affordable, but also a high-quality product. Their process isn’t only cheap, but also fast. The prototypes can be produced within three days and cost 20 to 30 times less than other bionic hands on the market. There are a couple of amazing ideas making this happen.
A low-cost way to make products…
For example, customers are able to order a prosthesis online and will be sent a 3D scanner. They can use it to make a scan of their limb and send the data back to Open Bionics. The resulting model is being used in order to produce a prosthesis with a perfect fit. The Bristol, UK based company will 3D print the parts, assemble the custom-fitted hand, and send it to its buyer. In order to perfect this process Samantha’s company worked with video game development studio Eidos Montreal and Razer, a firm that produces high-end gaming hardware.
… meets an amazing design idea!
The coolest thing about Open Bionics, however, isn’t even the brilliant production process. It is the way Samantha’s company made their product highly customisable. One of the first prototypes that were made for a volunteer resembled the bionic hands of one of Eidos Montreal’s most popular video game characters, Adam Jensen. The hand looks like it came to us straight from the future, which in a way it did, because Eidos’ game plays in 2027.
This idea amazingly turns what is a severe disability into something almost positive, and Open Bionics went with it. Today, for example, if children need a prosthetic limb, they can choose designs inspired by works of fiction like Frozen, Iron Man or Star Wars. This doesn’t only provide them with an arm they can use, but also with a feeling of empowerment, as Samantha puts it in an interview with WIRED UK.