This 3D-Printed Bionic Hand Could Change the Future of Prosthetics

Myoelectric prosthetics—bionic limbs that are controlled by an amputee’s muscle movements—have been around for decades. The issue until now has been that they’re often too bulky and expensive to be considered a practical option for many amputees, with hospital-grade models sometimes costing up to $100,000. Open Bionics, a startup based in the U.K., seeks to change that with their open-sourced, 3D-printed hands. 

Internal strings cause the lightweight prosthetics to open, close, and grip based on electrical cues from the forearm muscles. The 3D-printing technology creates comfortable models that are an exact match to the amputee’s opposite hand. The hands, which can come customized in a variety of colors and designs, function at the same level as more expensive prosthetics, but cost around $3000 and can be produced in just a few days. 

In the spirit of making bionic prosthetics more accessible to everyone, all the designs are open-sourced, meaning people are free to download the software and print hands themselves. While Open Bionics will still be making and selling prosthetics, they hope the accessibility will encourage innovation in the field. 

The next step for the startup is observing how wearers function with the hands day-to-day in order to continue to improve upon their product. It’s estimated that there are 11.4 million hand amputees across the globe; these new prosthetics could revolutionize daily life for many of them.

[h/t: TechCrunch]

By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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