The winners of the 2013 James Dyson Awards have been revealed, and standing on top of the winner's podium is the Titan Arm, an upper-body robotic arm which instantly increases the wearer's strength. But what makes the Titan Arm and its two runners-up so special?
Do you even lift?
Created by a team of four from the University of Pennsylvania, the Titan Arm can instantly let the wearer lift an extra 18kg, amplifying their natural arm strength while being supported by a rigid back and shoulder strap, with specially designed joints for fluid movement.
While it's designed to help rehabilitate people with back injuries, it can also make the lives of people who lift heavy objects easier. The Titan Arm's sensors can even track the wearer's motions, relaying data back to doctors for a remote prognosis.
The Titan team's £30,000 prize will go towards researching sensors which can record the electrical activity of the muscles. The strength of the Titan Arm can then adjust automatically, based on the readings.
This could open up the possibility for partially paralysed patients to control the Titan Arm with any remaning electrical activity still present in their muscles.
3D Printing keeps on impressing
Both runner-up designs involve 3D printing, and both project teams have been awarded a £10,000 runner-up prize to help achieve their goals.
Handie is an affordable 3D-printed prosthetic hand with in-built myoelectric sensors which can read brain signals. Users can then use their smartphones to carry out the calculations required for movement of the prosthetic hands – a much cheaper option than a dedicated PC.
The hand itself is 3D-printed which'll make it more affordable, and parts can be easily modified and reproduced in case something needs replacing and/or updating..
The 3D-printed Cortex cast will be a godsend for people who are unfortunate enough to need it.
While traditional plaster casts are itchy, hot and airless, the 3D-printed Cortex plastic cast system provides a lighter, more ventilated way of supporting limbs, and users can even scratch away to their heart's content if they've got an itch.
After the injured limb is scanned, a matching supportive cast is printed, with a structure that's designed to localise support at the point of injury.
Not bad for something that's only 3mm thick and weighs less than 500g, we think you'll agree.