Magazine

Prosthetics and IoT: Reaching Out to Amputees

Mohamed Dhaouafi of Cure Bionics

At a student competition four years ago, Mohamed Dhaouafi, a Tunisian engineering student, learned that a teammate’s cousin had been born without arms but couldn’t afford a prosthesis. The memory wouldn’t leave him alone. When he was looking for a project with social relevance, he discovered that many people were in the same situation. Dhaouafi formed a team to develop a functional but cost-effective prosthetic arm.Prosthetics and IoT

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are about 30 million amputees worldwide and in poor countries most of them cannot afford prostheses. It’s even worse for children and young people, who usually need replacements every year because they are still growing. Even an inexpensive prosthetic arm costs about $10,000.

Going out on a limb to help the disabled in africa, the middle east, and beyond.
Mohamed Dhaouafi, Founder Cure Bionics
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Without an assistive device, amputees remain restricted in their freedom of movement and often suffer from social stigma that prevents them from attending school. Many of them, therefore, remain unemployed for life. In addition, many prostheses are too heavy or the wrist can’t be rotated, or they have only three fingers. Dhaouafi’s team developed a solar-rechargeable model arm, with a manually rotatable wrist and five fingers, that costs only $2,000. He founded his own company, Cure Bionics, to produce and market the prostheses, which are 3D-printed in lightweight plastic.

Two sensors in the arm’s socket detect electrical activity of the muscles just under the skin. Users learn to tense the muscles in a specific way and an AI algorithm translates the signals into three grips: enclosing an object, gripping with an extended index finger (for example, to operate a smartphone or computer keyboard), and a three-finger hold. Actuators move the fingers via fine wires.

Initially, Cure offers three different sizes that grow with the user via adjustable cuffs. To train users, the team has developed a virtual reality (VR) application where a user can learn to control a virtual arm in an entertaining simulation viewed through VR glasses.

Dhaouafi hopes to be able to help people throughout Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. Next, he plans to develop artificial legs and he hopes to develop an exoskeleton that can help in rehabilitation after an accident.



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