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Open Arms

Mar 17, 2009, 07:02 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Kuniholm)

"As I discovered the difference between the science fiction and the reality of prosthetic arms, I tried to come up with a solution. I came up with some ideas for simple improvements to the body-powered arms I prefer, but I quickly realized that there wasn't much of a business case for commercialization. So some friends and I started the Open Prosthetics Project in Durham as an online clearinghouse for sharing prosthetic arm designs. The project attacks the most obvious barrier to innovation by giving people a forum in which to share their ideas. We want to start a dialogue among all the stakeholders. We want users and technicians to improve and tweak the technologies they use instead of being stuck with whatever one-size-fits-most device they get (for example, there is a section on our Web site called "Pimp My Arm"). A technically inclined amputee or technician can download our computer-aided design (CAD) files, modify them, and send them to a machinist.

"We hoped that we could disrupt the stagnant commercial market, as Linux has for software. We thought openness was the solution. But it turned out not to be that easy."

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