What is the NeuroMaker Creative Challenge?
The NeuroMaker Creative Challenge is an annual, open design competition for Middle and High school students, which runs twice a year, in June and December, to coincide with the spring and fall semesters. This competition is open to students worldwide to investigate the connections between Biomedical Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Programming, and more. Students select a problem to examine from a theme announced by the NeuroMaker judging committee. Students form teams, conduct research on this problem, build a prototype, and then virtually submit their results in a short scientific report and video.
Team Blue, Edward Yan from Vinci Robotics Academy, figured out how single or double hands amputees will hold and use smartphones.
Through Edward Yan's investigation, approximately 27 to 56% of upper limb amputees use prosthetics. Most prosthetic phone users will hold the device with their artificial hand while swiping with the natural one. But for double amputations, it might get more challenging because it's much more difficult to wipe with a plastic or metal hand. To use the phone, amputees would have to take it out of their pocket or bag. That may be a difficult task to do if you have a prosthetic hand. The purse itself is already tiny and fitting for your phone, and your artificial hand will probably be too big to fit in your pocket. Here is one real-life example of how an amputee gets his phone. Even though it's convenient, it might not be safe to carry the telephone outside their pocket. Someone could easily steal it, or it could fall off without them noticing.
Edward Yan thought a solution for taking the phone out of the pocket would be using a strong magnet, which it's straightforward to find from amazon for cars to hold the phones, such as this type of product.
The magnet was added to the palm of the prosthetic.
The palm magnet can hold the phone.
This product design is simple, environmental protection, and practical, with a few mounds sticking a metal plate to the phone or the case. Then, the magnet would be superglued to some blocks as supporting, then to the palm. Because the hand has a certain amount of space, Edward Yan needs to create space so the magnet can properly stick to the phone. He also programs the index, middle, rings, and pinky finger to be hooked. That way, it will secure the phone with extra help from the fingers. Another way is to take out a phone from the pocket or the bag.
Edward Yan thought another idea is to have a strong magnet on the fingers; amputees can use fingers to take out the phone in the same way. But they don't find an excellent strong appeal to put on the finger. Another point for holding the phone still needs to have strong magnets to carry the phone's weights. Edward Yan adds some friction on the hand, like rubber bands, latex gloves, or other frictional items.
The magnet can hold the phone firmly.
They also need to know how to operate on the capacitive touch screen to use the phone successfully. We all know touch scream is easy for people with actual hands. Still, amputees who use prosthetic hands to operate the touch screen usually have trouble because the finger may not be electrically conductive or have some tiny current from it.
From Edward Yan's solution, he creates a tiny metal round plate built underneath the plastic. It would be connected to the wiring that gives the hand power. The amputees would war an additional finger cast that helps transfer an electrode signal to the phone, recognizing it as a natural finger.
Lastly, the solution for operating the phone which would be to program different hand gestures. For example, the most important movements are swiping, tapping, and pinching.
The gesture to swipe and tap
Edward Yan was designed to help amputees use intelligent devices just like ordinary people and help them achieve their goals.