Bristol duo's inexpensive prosthetic hand reaches final of Intel wearable tech competition

A Bristol firm has reached the final of Intel’s ‘Make it Wearable’ design competition with a prototype prosthetic hand which could provide an inexpensive and efficient solution for amputees.

Designers Joel Gibbard and Sammy Payne’s handy prototype has reached the final of Intel’s competition – held to challenge the world’s brightest creatives to “change the world” with wearable technology.

The pair of Open Bionics, based at Bristol Robotics Laboratory’s (BRL), are among the final ten entries, shortlisted from 400 international teams. As a result, they are one step away from the $500,000 prize.

Their limb design offers human hand functionality as electric motors and steel cables replace muscles and tendons respectively. It also uses 3D-printed parts, which function as tendons and skin, giving users the ability to handle all sorts of objects.

Joel Gibbard, co-designer of the limb, said: “Aside from the initial cash prize, which will provide invaluable funding for our project development, this is a great opportunity for us to learn about product design and business from experts at the incubation programme at UC Berkeley in the US.

“We’ve made some great progress in the last few weeks. We’ve got the circuit boards working and controlling the motors, all that needs to be done now is a few more tweaks on the hand design and for the code to be written.”

Gibbard added: “I’ve enlisted the help of an embedded software developer that I work with at the BRL so we’ll be working on this over the next few weeks. The aim is to send out our prototype hand before the end of the Make It Wearable competition and receive some useful feedback on its performance.”

The team will share the design with the world for free when it is finally completed.

Intel earlier this year acquired Basis Science, a manufacturer of wristband health trackers, as part of a company-wide push to create seamless wearable technology.

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