"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
"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."