Limbitless Solutions Unveils 3D Printed Device for Quadriplegics
Limbitless Solutions is back at it again. The Orlando-based nonprofit that previously garnered national attention for their affordable 3D printed prosthetic arms has just unveiled their latest endeavor. The latest project is a 3D printed device that allows quadriplegics to control wheelchairs using basic facial movements. The device is similar to a headband in design.
The device was unveiled at UCF this morning, where Limbitless called upon a disabled U.S. Marine veteran to help demo their new project. The demo was intended to show the ease of using the device, as well as the ability to navigate obstacles.
“This was just an idea a year ago,” said Limbitless’ founder and CEO Albert Manero. “Then some of our newest members took the idea and ran with it as their senior design project. Now we can make a difference for our veterans who have made sacrifices defending us, or people who have lost function due to car accidents. I couldn’t be more proud of our team and am so excited to be able to help a whole other group of people.”
The team put together several electronic components into a small box that attaches to the joystick on a wheelchair. Electromyographic sensors are then placed on the person’s face, near their forehead. The sensors send a signal to the box and depending on which muscles are used, the signal moves the joystick propelling the person forward, backwards, right or left. Seems complicated, but it took quadriplegic Charlie Merritt only five minutes to master it.
“It was pretty easy,” Merritt said when he tested out the device. “This will give individuals with spinal-cord injuries another option, which is currently not available to be independent. I don’t know how to measure the impact of that. I guess you would say it’s priceless.”
The wheelchair kits are produced for $300 to $500 compared to other technology on the market that ranges from $700 to $1,000.
According to their press release, this new project is just one of “many innovations the team is designing, researching and building.”
Alex Pring, the seven year old boy to whom Limbitless delivered their first 3D printed prosthetic arm to, was in the crowd for the unveiling of the new project. Limbitless caught national attention a year ago when it created a 3D-printed bionic arm for less than $350 for Pring. The team open sourced the design for the 3D printed arm so others could affordably produce the arms and impact their communities. The team’s work was recognized by Robert Downey Jr., who helped Limbitless deliver an Iron Man-themed arm in March.