Canadian Inventors "Bionik" AMO Arm Recognized by the James Dyson Award

A Canadian-invented prosthetic arm that's controlled by brain signals is being recognized by the James Dyson Award.

AMO Arm and its two Canadian inventors – Michal Prywata and Thiago Caires – have officially moved on to the final Top 15 round of finalists in the prestigious, international engineering award.

On November 8, 2011, inventor and innovator James Dyson will select the top scoring design. The winner will receive receive £10,000 (for the student or the team) and £10,000 for the winner's university department.

Prywata and Caires' invention was selected from a competitive field of 550 inventions from 18 countries.

"AMO Arm is a prosthetic limb that is controlled using brain signals," explains the team. "AMO Arm replaces an invasive, costly and lengthy surgical procedure, dramatically improving the quality of life for amputees."

Prywata and Caires have already turned AMO Arm into a successful business venture which includes development of assistance devices for paraplegics, various types of amputations, and non-invasive blood glucose meters for diabetes patients. The Ryerson Biomedical Engineering students have built a company, Toronto-based Bionik Laboratories Inc., and are currently securing their first round of investor funding.

See below for the full list of the Top 15 inventors:

AMO Arm (Canada)
Problem: The loss of an arm can often demand invasive muscle re-innervation surgery for full arm prosthetics.
Solution: AMO Arm bypasses the medical procedure. It can be strapped on and is controlled using brain signals, avoiding major surgery and the long rehabilitation period after.
Dyson engineers said: "It is quite incredible that so many complex movements can be achieved by thought alone. Very slick, very hi tech and very impressive."

Air Massage (UK)
Problem: Arthritis sufferers experience stiff joints which can effectively "seize up" and are difficult and painful to get moving again.
Solution: The device uses PVC air bags which fill to create a wave of pressure across the hand. This provides a massage and compression, both of which are beneficial to the sufferer.
Dyson engineers said: "This is a good product idea which is demonstrated by great rigs."

Airdrop Irrigation (Australia)
Problem: Drought has devastating consequences, but there is an abundant source of water in the air around us.
Solution: Airdrop Irrigation feeds air though a network of subterranean piping, cooling the air and allowing condensation. It then pumps this water directly to the crops above.
Dyson engineers said: "We like how the designer engineered a very simple low cost product to help drought stricken areas. The clever idea here is how he's used cool subterranean ground to condense water out of the air."

AudioWeb (UK)
Problem: The internet is highly visual and can be difficult for the blind and partially sighted to navigate. Existing products simply read the page content and can be confusing.
Solution: AudioWeb uses multiple voices to reflect text formatting, and music provides the context of where you are on the screen - making web use faster and easier.
Dyson engineers said: "A satisfactory program that helps blind people to use the internet seems long overdue – this is an improvement on the existing technology available."

Blindspot (Singapore)
Problem: The white cane is an invaluable tool in guiding the visually impaired away from hazards, but it's not intelligent enough to guide them towards things, like a nearby friend.
Solution: Blindspot augments the existing white cane with technology to direct the user towards a chosen destination using an optical track button.
Dyson engineers said: "Designers should always consider how new technology can improve existing products."

dbGLOVE (Italy)
Problem: The deaf and blind can suffer from a lack of access, communication and mobility.
Solution: This interactive glove helps not only the deaf but also the deaf and blind by using a range of stimulations and buttons to allow computer mediated communication.
Dyson engineers said: "DbGLOVE allows the deaf and blind to communicate at the 'tips of their fingers.'"

Ecoclean (Spain)
Problem: Using a conventional mop and bucket means you're always returning dirty water to your clean floor. On top of which, most buckets require between 5 and 7 litres of water.
Solution: Ecoclean uses two receptacles in the bucket separate the clean water from the dirty water, so the two are never mixed. Instead of 7 litres of water, Ecoclean requires only 1 litre to work effectively. This cuts back on water consumption and contamination.
Dyson engineers said: "A simple, yet revolutionary re-invention of the traditional mop and bucket. This hygienic and eco-conscious design works with basic principles to solve two problems at once."

KwickScreen (UK)
Problem: Hospital wards do not afford patients privacy and can be a breeding ground for hospital acquired infections.
Solution: KwickScreen is a portable, retractable room divider. Using Rolatube technology it increases the privacy, dignity and protection afforded to patients. It allows healthcare professionals to make the best use of available space and can be wiped clean to improve hygiene.
Dyson engineers said: "KwickScreen exploits the benefits Rolatube technology and is an hygienic alternative to dusty curtains. A slick project, brilliantly done."

MediMover (Ireland)
Problem: Devices to manoeuvre patients in hospitals are often flimsy and impractical. This can contribute to back problems for porters.
Solution: MediMover is an aid to transfer patients from one hospital bed to another bed. The process uses minimal effort and eliminates the need to roll or lift the patient.
Dyson engineers said: "This is a good example of how good design can reduce the strain caused by an everyday task."

Open Socket (USA)
Problem: The current cost (approx. $5,000) and complexity of assembly of prosthetic arms is a huge barrier to helping amputees in developing countries.
Solution: The Open Socket prosthetic arm is mechanically controlled by simple body movements which allow the hook to be opened and closed and replace the function of a human hand. It can be fitted onto an amputee in under 10 minutes and costs only $100.
Dyson engineers said: "Open Socket is an ingenious answer to a longstanding need for a low cost, easy-fit prosthetics for use in developing countries."

R2B2: Mechanised Kitchen Utensils (Germany)
Problem: We use vast amounts of energy in food production; every stage from growing, harvesting, packaging, purchasing and cooking can place a strain on our resources.
Solution: R2B2 uses a fly wheel, driven by a pedal, to generate and store electricity. This eliminates the need for electricity in food preparation.
Dyson engineers said: "We loved this how this technology engages the user with the whole cooking process; from the creation and storing of energy, to the preparation of food."

Rabbit Ray (Singapore)
Problem: Children often associate hospital procedures with punishment, ultimately leading to an unhealthy mindset in later years.
Solution: Rabbit Ray is communication tool for hospital staff and children to explain blood taking and intravenous drips. Using a rabbit to demonstrate the child is shown how and why the simple procedures are taking place, allaying their fears.
Dyson engineers said: "Everyone remembers being terrified of injections as a child. Rabbit Ray is about prevention rather than cure – explaining something to a child through a medium they understand."

Suppostin (UK)
Problem: About 95% of people who suffer from a spinal cord injury require at least one intervention to initiate defecation. This is often aided by an insertion of a gloved finger into the anus which can be frustrating and embarrassing for patients.
Solution: The Suppostin suppository inserter removes the need for the insertion of fingers. In this way, it allows users to be more independent and dignified in their bowel care.
Dyson engineers said: "A challenging problem and a brilliant solution."

You'd Better Drink Tea (Germany)
Problem: Millions of cups of tea are brewed around the world and each one uses a myriad of materials which negatively affect our environment.
Solution: You'd Better Drink Tea cuts the materials down to just one - a biodegradable plastic pocket which protects, brews and then stirs your tea.
Dyson engineers said: "A teabag and teaspoon in one. You'd Better Drink Tea enables the drinker to make a cup of tea with just one material, eliminating a lot of the waste from your daily brew."

Mobile Furniture (Japan)
Problem: Finding adaptable furniture for a small narrow room is difficult.
Solution: Mobile Furniture uses link mechanics to create adaptable furniture – creating a dining table, cupboard, bed space, shelving unit and high table.
Dyson engineers said: "Amazing furniture design – fantastically prototyped. It is incredible that something so small can incorporate so much engineering and function".

For more information, visit: www.jamesdysonaward.org or www.bioniklabs.com

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