Who told prosthetics can’t be fun? This company gave them a Disney makeover.


What do Luke Skywalker, Iron Man, and Elsa of Arendelle have in common?

Photo by Kevin Winter/ Getty Images.

Well for starters, they are three of the more popular characters to ever grace the movie screen. They also happen to be go-to favourites for children to mimic be it in their behaviour, the route they dress up at Halloween, or the earsplitting cover-ups of “Let It Go” they force us to sit through in the name of love.

But there’s another way these three cinema icons are related: They’re all playing a role in the advancement of prosthetic limbs, thanks to the combined efforts of Disney and Open Bionics, a UK-based robotics firm.

Child amputees will soon be able to don fully functional bionic hands modeled after their favorite “Star Wars, ” “Iron Man, ” and “Frozen” characters.

The idea is the brainchild of Open Bionics founder and CEO Joel Gibbard, who began developing homemade robotic hands when he was just 17 years old. Hoping to provide cheaper( and cooler) prosthetics to those in need, Gibbard founded the Open Hand Project in 2013.

The company utilized 3D-printing technology to build robotic prosthetic hands more accessible to amputees by drastically reduce the number of exorbitant cost of them( from $100,000 a piece to under $1,000 ).

The Open Hand Project eventually developed into Open Bionics, which was selected to join Disney’s accelerator program( powered by entrepreneurial juggernaut Techstars) earlier this year.

The deal with Disney helped them design prosthetic limbs that seem more like toys than medical equipment.

The accelerator program not only granted Open Bionics $ 120,000 to further develop their technology, but assigned staffers from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN, and Walt Disney to mentor Gibbard as he generated these prosthetic limbs. In addition, the program royalty-free licensing to help keep expenses down.

The hero-themed prostheses are not only stylish, but offer a unique function as well.

All three individually customizable prostheses come equipped with LED illuminates that monitor muscle developing and motors that can also communicate the strength of the child’s grip, permitting both the child’s parents and their doctors to “see what’s happening under the surface, ” as Gibbard told The Independent.

As if that wasn’t already cool enough, the “Iron Man” one even makes rocket-firing sounds!

If this all sounds familiar, it might be because Open Bionics isn’t the first company to combine bionic limbs with Disney properties.

Last year, Limbitless CEO Albert Manero developed a similar technology and even brought in Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr ., to present one of his 3D-printed prosthetics to a lucky child in a video that promptly went viral.

And just like Limbitless, Gibbard and Open Bionics are focused on changing the public’s perception of amputees in general.

All of a sudden they’re not being asked how they lost their hand, they’re being asked where they got their cool robot hand, how does it feel, and how does it work? ” Gibbard told The Independent.

“It totally flips the perception 180 degrees, ” he told “What might have been perceived as their greatest weakness is seen as their greatest strength.”

According to Gibbard, the prosthetics should be available to the public by the end of 2016 and will cost less than $3,000 to create.

Movies don’t always predict the future. But it’s amazing to see what happens when technology is powered by the imagination of the big screen.

Read more: www.upworthy.com


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