10,000 miles will not stop Richard Van As of South Africa and Ivan Owen of Washington State from building an inexpensive prosthetic finger prototype that could one day help millions of amputees. Richard lost his arm last year in an accident. In spite of his condition, he did not lose hope and decided to search for prosthetics online that could help him. After a seemingly futile search, he eventually found one of Ivan’s mechanical hand prop videos on YouTube.
Ivan, who has a keen interest in mechanical systems, started working on his prop as a personal project. Richard immediately sent Ivan an email and since then, both men have been trying to build a mechanical digit that could replace what finger amputees lost. Richard created a plastic replica of his hand for Ivan to use as a reference. Ivan went on to work on a prosthetic finger made up of a lever arm, a fingertip a set of pulleys, and a grip pad. The current prototype that Richard is now using acts like a glove and is held by a hand mount.
Unlike other high-tech prosthetic fingers in the market, Richard and Ivan claims that their prototype is cheaper and is easier to build. Richard and Ivan will be giving away the design for free so that other people will also benefit from their work. You can check out the project here. “My vision for the future will be to take this knowledge and carry it as far and as fast as possible. Get the design and parts out there to as many people as possible so that we can do as much as we can to help fill this need,” said Ivan Owen.