Prosthetic and assistive technologies have come have come a long way in recent years. When there are not only major medical research organizations, but individuals getting on board designing tools to improve the lives of others? That’s something special. Enter a homebrew essay into this field: ExoArm.
Attached to the body via what was available — in this case, the support harness for a gas-powered weed-eater — which distributes the load across the upper body and an Arduino for a brain, ExoArm designer [Kristjan Berce] has since faced roadblocks with muscle sensors meant to enable more instinctive control. So — for now — functionality is limited to a simple up and down motion controlled by two switches. It is worth noting that the down switch is currently mounted in such a way that when the user moves their arm down, the ExoArm follows suit, so there is some natural feel to using the arm in its present iteration.
Developed with the elderly — and others who need a boost to physical strength to live a normal life — in mind, this prototype is able to curl up to 10kg in excess of its own weight. Presently, the only motor is on the elbow joint — granting a basic range of motion — with one adapted to the shoulder joint forthcoming! And, costing only $ 100, it’s a heck of a start.