Phantom Limb

Project details

The Alternative Limb Project was approached by games giant Konami to create a bespoke prosthetic limb for an amputee gamer, inspired by the world of Metal Gear Solid, using cutting edge and innovative technologies.

The gamer in question was James Young, a speaker and Biological Science graduate with a passion for tech.

“Once I had read a great line which stuck in my head on a website where a prosthetic user said ‘I want to take off my limb and leave it in a room, and people will recognise it and know that belongs to me. It reflects part of my personality’. I totally connected with that idea as a biologist, knowing that all parts of our bodies can be recognised as being ours by our unique DNA, so why not add a personal stamp to our artificial limbs.”

Arm features:

1. Leather harness, tailored to James for comfort and fit by Shashi Couhan

2. 3D printed hand (by Open Bionics) which receives signals from electrodes in the harness to form various grips and gestures, using buttons in the forearm. Positions are:

  • Closed fist
  • Open palm
  • Thumbs up
  • Point
  • Pinch
  • Tripod

3. Carbon fibre construction from GTR (motorsport and aerospace manufacturers) making the arm lightweight and very strong.

4. The Social Space: a removable panel in the shoulder with a circle of magnets capable of holding small items (such as a camera, lighting display, recording device etc.) which can be charged or powered by the arm. A 3D file is also available for fans to download and design for the space.

5. Powered by a high voltage lithium battery stored in the bicep.

6. The arm disconnects below the shoulder to enable easy removal without taking off the harness.

7. Mechanical elbow (supplied by Steeper) with a button on the forearm control panel to disengage the lock.

8. Lights run through the contours and gaps in the arm which can be controlled using sliders in the forearm control panel. The lights can also respond to a built-in heart-rate sensor.

9. Bluetooth enabled wrist with USB port, torch and laser. A small screen interface in the wrist connects with James’s phone and can display messages, emails, incoming calls and social media notifications. Wrist rotation half way up the forearm.

10. A bespoke quadcopter (by Mobulair) is housed in the shoulder’s Social Space which James can fly using a bespoke one-handed controller and FPV (first person view) googles.

11. The arm and quadcopter controls are spray-finished in a metallic caramel rum colour, with detailing stencilled on in white.