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Science: 

Disney’s new superhero prosthetics are real arm candy

disney-superhero-prosthetics

Choose from Iron Man, Frozen or Star Wars

Prosthetic limbs are now so realistic it can be hard to tell them from their flesh-and-blood counterparts. But these most definitely stand out. It’s a range of prosthetic arms based on characters from Disney movies – choose from Iron Man, Elsa from Frozen, or a lightsaber-themed Star Wars arm.

That last one even has customised LED lights and makes the iconic “woom” lightsaber sound. Want.

They’re the product of a collaboration between Disney and UK-based robotics firm Open Bionics. As part of the Disney Accelerator program, Disney let the firm use its designs free of charge. That’s a huge deal, considering that a) Disney owns some of the biggest movie franchises in history, and b) it’s notorious for fiercely protecting its intellectual property.

The program was started by Disney and Techstars to foster creativity and innovation in the tech world. Techstars provides mentorship and investment for start-ups, and is made up of people from huge firms like Facebook, Amazon, Citymapper and Nike.

Open Bionics was founded in Bristol in the UK by Joel Gibbard, and has won awards for its affordable, highly advanced robotic prosthetics.

According to Gibbard, the range is proving popular beyond its target audience.

“We’ve already had several requests for the lightsaber from people who aren’t kids,” he told UK newspaper The Independent recently.

Though the range is having the desired affect with young people too. “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? It completely flips the perception 180 degrees. What might have been perceived as their greatest weakness is seen as their greatest strength.”

In keeping with Open Bionics’ other prosthetics, the range is very affordable considering the tech involved. They’re 3D printed, and will sell for less than $3,000 when they go on sale before the end of 2016. So they won’t cost an arm and a leg.

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