Oregon-based mechanical engineer Ian Davis is in the midst of building an extraordinary prosthetic hand. The partial hand—in the videos and pictures below—is stunningly intricate and now, after two years of development, working flawlessly. It’s also steampunk (and a little cyberpunk) AF.
The videos of Davis’ mechanical hand prosthetic, which come via Gizmodo, are on his eponymous YouTube channel. Davis’ channel is dedicated to outlining the journey he’s been on to build the electromechanical prosthetic hand; a journey that began in 2019 following an accident in his shop.
Davis told KDRV News that his healthcare provider informed him his fingers were not “medically necessary” post surgical operation, and the indefatigable engineer, who is also battling cancer, stepped up and decided to take on the task of building the prosthetic himself. Now, two years later, the prosthetic works so well it almost seems like its functionality is a special effect.
The mechanical prosthetic is mostly aluminum, and consists of a series of linkages and levers; some of which even use bike chains. When Davis moves his hand or wrist, the links and levers transmit that movement to the aluminum fingers; allowing the engineer to make fists, splay his fingers, or do pretty much anything else one can with a hand. Once complete, the hand will also have electronics allowing it to, say, monitor a wearer’s heart rate. It will also be able to connect via bluetooth to attachments, such as this mini chainsaw.
Davis ultimately wants to team up with a biomedical engineering department at a university in order to build hands like this one for other amputees. “There’s a need and it just needs to be filled,” Davis told KDRV news. He added that his greatest desire is to see his prosthetics on other people, helping them the way the devices help him.
Originally published on June 6, 2020.