Thursday, September 28, 2023

A Semi-Bionic Hand That Helps The Users To Touch And Feel

By Sharad Bhowmick

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A bionic arm is not the last resort but a new beginning, a second chance at life. Robo Bionics is aiding people having arms disability through their bionic arm, Grippy. The company hopes to make bionic arms affordable for all.

While doing M.Tech at IIT Patna, a close friend of Llewellyn D’sa had arm disability since birth. The problems faced by his friend inspired him to do something for people having similar disabilities. On learning about bionic arms, he realised that most prosthetics available in the Indian market were either very expensive or were of low quality. Moreover, the repair of products was either not possible or was very expensive.

So, in order to help people with a missing arm, Llewellyn decided to take up research and development of indigenous bionic arms as his M. Tech project. He and his friends, who helped him with the project, started Robo Bionics. From the first prototype to the final product, the journey took them around three and a half years and almost ten iterations to reach where they are today.

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Robo Bionics tested their bionic arms on ten disabled people who were chosen for the trials. Since then, the company has fitted bionic arms to more than 50 people across India.
The current bionic arm from Robo Bionics is called Grippy. It is a lightweight, affordable, battery-powered prosthetic arm, which is suitable for anyone over the age of 15 years with below-elbow amputation.

Anil Nair, CTO (left), Llewellyn D’sa, CEO, and Priyanka D’sa, COO
Anil Nair, CTO (left), Llewellyn D’sa, CEO, and Priyanka D’sa, COO

Unlike most bionic arms available in the market, which can’t cater to people with different muscle strengths, Grippy can be programmed based on the user’s muscle strength. This gives them accurate control over the device.

Grippy can enable the user to sense objects. Moreover, it can differentiate between a soft and a hard object and offers an automatically adjusted grip control, which enables the user to hold an object without damaging it with excessive force. The ability to program Grippy makes it very easy to use; most people are able to control it on the very first day.

Imported bionics arms made of titanium weigh around 600 grams and cost around a million rupees. Grippy having a similar weight costs one-fourth of that, making smart prosthetics arms accessible to a larger population in India.


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