A robotic arm that is “ergonomic, non-invasive, wireless, battery-powered and affordable” has won its creators a $45,000 award from the James Dyson Foundation. When worn, the Titan Arm increases arm strength by 40 percent, which makes it useful in applications ranging from physical rehabilitation to disaster relief. Unlike similar exoskeleton-like devices, which cost upwards of six figures, it cost the team of University of Pennsylvania student engineers about $2,000 to make. In addition to the $45,000, which will allow them to further develop the prototype, the engineering department won $16,000 for rapid prototyping equipment.
What’s the Big Idea?
The Dyson Award is an international competition that challenges teams of university students to “design something that solves a problem.” In this case, the expense of most exoskeletons makes them ineligible for health insurance coverage, even though they have been shown to assist or even accelerate rehab in a variety of situations. The Titan Arm team hopes to make their version available for less than $10,000, which could help bring it into more hospitals and rehab centers.
University of Cincinnati researchers have designed technology that channels sunlight to dark interior rooms through grids of tiny adjustable cells. The energy can also be stored to power electrical systems.