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These Prosthetic Arms Turn Kids Into Superheroes

Kids can now have be part Iron Man, or their favorite Frozen character.

A Bristol, UK based company is working with Disney, Lucasfilm, and Marvel to give kids awesome prosthetic arms. Open Bionics makes low-cost robotic hands, and now kids can choose from three movie-inspired models: Iron Man, Frozen, and Star Wars.

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Of the three, the Star Wars hand is the one that people like the most, says The Independent, because it makes a vroom sound and lights up like a real light saber (in three colors). “Kids absolutely love them,” Open Bionics CEO Joel Gibbard told the paper.

The hands are built for amputees and are designed to cost less than most existing robot hands. The motorized fingers are controlled by electrical impulses detected in the muscles of the stump, so the kids can learn to use them just like a real hand. Only, unlike a regular flesh and bone arm, these light up.

The novelty is important because it fights the stigma that child amputees face in school. Instead of a pink plastic doll-hand, kids get to wear something other kids are jealous of. “The power of these prosthetics is that the public perception is completely different,” Gibbard told The Independent. “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’s hands are one option, or kids could wear a Lego hand which doubles as a toy. Around the world, low-cost, 3-D printed arms are becoming available, and services even exist to match owners of 3-D printers up with kids who need prosthetics.

Expected to cost roughly $4,000, Gibbard’s hand isn’t the cheapest hand available, but if it helps amputee kids fit in better, it might be one of the best. The first models should be ready for sale next year.

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About the author

Previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.

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