The James Dyson Award has been given to Titan Arm, a robotic arm that increases the natural strength of human arms.
Although Titan Arm is currently just a prototype, it already increases arm strength by 20kg and can be used to help lift heavy items or rebuild muscle strength after back injuries.
Dyson, which creates innovative items like the Dyson Hot Cool, has awarded £30,000 in Titan Arm to develop, test and eventually commercialise the prototype as part of the 2013 James Dyson Award.
“Titan Arm is obviously an ingenious design, but the team’s use of modern, rapid – and relatively inexpensive – manufacturing techniques makes the project even more compelling”, said Sir James Dyson.
The Titan Arm prototype cost £1,200 to produce and the developers aim to use 3D printing techniques to fit the robotic arm to individual users.
It should also be a cheaper alternative to current exoskeleton options, which currently cost up to £63,000. When it is commercialised, the Titan Arm should cost a tenth of this figure.
“We wanted Titan Arm to be affordable, as exoskeletons are rarely covered by health insurance,” said Titan Arm’s Nick Parrotta. “This informed our design decision and the materials we used. Most structural components are machined from inexpensive aluminium.”
According to the UK national health and safety scheme, over a third of workplace injuries are caused by manual lifting. 7.5 million working days have been lost to such injuries over the past 10 years, costing the UK economy £6 billion per year.
The two runners-up for the James Dyson Award 2013 both receive £10,000 for further development.
Japanese project, Handie, is an affordable prosthetic hand with inbuilt sensors for reading brain signals. A smartphone is used to compute the skin’s impulses to keep costs low and the Handie’s components are made using a 3D printer.
The second runner-up is New Zealand-based project, Cortex. It is a 3D printed plastic cast system for broken bones. It is waterproof, recyclable and ventilated, whilst still providing a tight fitting cast and support for the fracture.
Next, read our Dyson DC59 vacuum cleaner review.