Adam's Hand: IT and super-inclusion

Adam's Hand: IT and super-inclusion


Text by: Fabrizio Morgagni


Category: Social Innovation


BionIT Labs is an innovative startup founded in February 2018 which designs and develops innovative medical devices by applying Information Technologies to Bionics, with the aim of "Turning disabilities into New Possibilities". The Company is composed by a multi-disciplinary team of 13 highly-skilled professionals, including mechanical, electronic, biomedical and IT engineers, finance and business experts and graphic designers, which are supported by business advisors and several scientific and industrial partners.
Nowadays, people with disabilities are continually forced to adapt to an environment that has not been designed considering their needs, but rather following the wishes of the majority of the "able-bodied" population: the interfaces that allow a person with motor, visual, auditory or other impairments to relate in an immediate and effective way with their environment and with other individuals are generally few and not adequate. In BionIT Labs, we don't see disabilities as an absolute limit to people's potential, but rather as an obstacle related to the inadequacy of the interfaces developed by mankind throughout history: it's therefore our responsibility to breathe life into Innovative Technologies that can Turn disabilities into New Possibilities.
The first device under development by BionIT Labs is Adam's Hand, the world's first fully- adaptive bionic hand: Adam's Hand is an innovative myoelectric hand prosthesis based on a game-changing technology which uses only one motor (instead of the 5-6 motors generally used by our competitors) to move all the fingers, making them automatically adapt to the grasped objects' shape and dimensions: there's no need to select any pre-set grip pattern, as it happens in the case of all of our competitors' bionic devices, since the user has only to decide if opening or closing the hand, while the hand automatically performs the most suitable grip pattern for each grasped object.
This makes the device extremely simple to use, since it requires less visual attention - and therefore less psychological load - for the user to grip an object: the subject then learns to use the device very quickly, and to control it in an extremely intuitive way. Moreover, the adaptive mechanism allows the grip forces to be equally distributed among the fingers, thus ensuring always a firm grip of the grasped objects.
Using a single motor also allows to obtain a lighter, more compact, less noisy device, with greater autonomy, at a cost of up to one fourth of our high-end competitors' devices. The phalanges are 3D printed using advanced techno polymers, in order to make them easily customizable in size and to keep the weight as low as possible without compromising the device structural integrity.
The prosthesis is not an invasive device: its activity is in fact induced by the contraction of the muscles in the residual limb, whose signals are detected by electromyographic sensors.
Adam's Hand its users to perform the 90% of ADLs (activities of daily livings), which are fundamental for their comfort and well-being, also thanks to the active thumb rotation and to the in-built passive and lockable flexion wrist.
The group cooperates with the University of Salento, Politecnico di Bari and Politecnico di Torino with regard to research activities and it also welcomes undergraduates who carry out internships and research works on parallel projects. BionIT Labs currently collaborates with 3 orthopaedic resellers: N.T.O. Colella S.r.l., CAD Ortopedia S.r.l. and Ortopedia Sorrentina S.a.s, which already expressed their interest in acquiring several devices.