Open Bionics Meets Metal Gear Solid


Open Bionics has created a custom 3D printed bionic hand for an avid one-handed gamer.

Open Bionics in collaboration with The Alternative Limb Project for James Young sponsered by Konami. The Phantom Limb photographed by Omkaar Kotedia. 

Open Bionics in collaboration with The Alternative Limb Project for James Young sponsered by Konami. The Phantom Limb photographed by Omkaar Kotedia. 

The hand, printed in a flexible material, took just over 24 hours to print on a desktop Ultimaker 3D printer, and was programmed to perform six different actions.    

The Phantom Limb project, commissioned by Metal Gear Solid makers Konami, is a collaboration of artists, makers, engineers, and roboticists that set out to fuse medical technology with the world of video games. 

James Young wears The Phantom Limb.  Photo by Omkaar Kotedia.

James Young wears The Phantom Limb.  Photo by Omkaar Kotedia.

Open Bionics was approached by producer Sophie de Oliveira Barata of the Alternative Limb Project as robotics consultants to make the prosthetic hand, inspired by Metal Gear Solid, truly bionic.

This bionic limb of the future has been given to James Young, an avid amputee gamer who helped design the arm. You can see a video of James being interviewed about his new prosthesis here on our Facebook page

The Phantom Limb bionic hand is a functional prosthesis that has been designed to match James' existing hand and programmed to perform diverse grip patterns.

The video (below) shows how James can control his 3D printed hand using his back muscles. 

Su-Yina Farmer, European Communications Manager, at KONAMI said:  “It has been fascinating and a pleasure to work with Open Bionics, on The Phantom Limb Project. Working in collaboration with alternative prosthetic artist Sophie De Oliveira Barata, KONAMI set out to create a bespoke prosthetic arm, inspired by the hugely popular video game series Metal Gear Solid, for gaming fan James Young.

Open Bionics were a great fit for the project, as they combined bionic technology with 3D printing – an increasingly accessible and adaptable technology, which enabled us the flexibility and scope to design a prosthetic arm that was uniquely functional for James, with a visual affinity to the Metal Gear Solid world. The Open Bionics team were keen to explore new ways of adapting their bionic hand technology to James and the project’s needs, resulting in a truly bespoke design.

We hope that James’ amazing bionic arm will help change perceptions of disability, as well as inspire people as to what can be done with technology and prosthetics, and we can’t wait to see what Open Bionics work on next.” 

Samantha Payne, Open Bionics' co-founder, said: "The hand is a myoelectric prosthesis. This means EMG sensors read muscle activity beneath James' skin. This activity, which James' controls via muscle tension, signals to the hand which grip pattern to use. Essentially, James can tell the hand what to do by squeezing his shoulder muscles. Depending on how James is squeezing his shoulder muscles, he call tell the hand to perform five different programmed actions including opening and closing the fingers, pointing, and using a tripod grip. It is so exciting to see prosthetics like this come to life."

Jonathan Raines, Open Bionics’ lead mechanical engineer, said: “This project was interesting because it was the first time we worked to create a specific look for a hand. Working with James was also a highlight. He takes all the weirdness of having electrodes stuck to him and plaster cast over his shoulders in his stride. We have to give a shout out to Fenner Drives for supplying us with NinjaFlex in a colour that wasn’t even available in the UK too, thanks team.”  

Open Bionics is based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory; the biggest robotics lab in the UK. The startup has been experimenting over the past year with the idea of what bionic limbs could look like and what functions they should perform.

Last year the team produced this Swarovski covered bionic arm that lit up at night with fibre optics, before producing superhero prosthetics for kids that have superhuman functionality. The hero arms and hands light up, make sounds, and can ‘fire’ repulsor blasters and lightsabres.

Open Bionics are developing bionic arms that combine art, engineering, and science fiction to offer amputees more choice.