CL Bennett, K Cen, KM Steele, DK Rosner, (2016) “An intimate laboratory? Prostheses as a tool for experimenting with identity and normalcy.” CHI Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM

Prostheses from the 15th century (medieval metal hand) to the 21st century (3D-printed enable hand).

Peer-review paper at CHI Human Factors in Computing Systems Annual Conference:

Prostheses are more than just a tool to enhance function – they strongly influence perceptions of identity and normalcy.

Prostheses from the 15th century (medieval metal hand) to the 21st century (3D-printed enable hand).Abstract: This paper is about the aspects of ability, selfhood, and normalcy embodied in people’s relationships with prostheses. Drawing on interviews with 14 individuals with upper-limb loss and diverse experiences with prostheses, we find people not only choose to use and not use prosthesis throughout their lives but also form close and complex relationships with them. The design of “assistive” technology often focuses on enhancing function; however, we found that prostheses played important roles in people’s development of identity and sense of normalcy. Even when a prosthesis failed functionally, such as was the case with 3D-printed prostheses created by an on-line open-source maker community (e-NABLE), we found people still praised the design and initiative because of the positive impacts on popular culture, identity, and community building. This work surfaces crucial questions about the role of design interventions in identity production, the promise of maker communities for accelerating innovation, and a broader definition of “assistive” technology.

View the video for more information on this work.

Ivan Owen: Washington Access Fund 2015

CKing 5 story on prosthetic work at UW Bothell.ongratulations to one of our collaborators, Ivan Owen from UW Bothell, for being selected as one of the top nominees for the Washington Access Fund 2015 Innovation Award! Ivan was one of the original co-creators for the 3D-printed prosthetic hand and released the designs open-source which has led to the formation of the global Enable movement.

You can also learn more about Ivan’s recent work on this recent news story from King 5

We will find out on Nov. 12th if Ivan is the 2015 awardee. Good luck Ivan!

Prototyping Challenge: Opening the Hand

Today we hosted a prototyping challenge at the CoMotion Makerspace with some of our partners from Seattle Pacific University. The focus of today’s challenge was to both introduce our new lab members to low-resolution prototyping and improve the design of our affordable hand exoskeleton for individuals with impaired hand function.

Participants in the hand function protoyping challenge

The challenge:

Individuals who have had a stroke or neurologic injury commonly lose the ability to open their hand. Physical and occupational therapy are the most common treatments and can lead to improvements in hand function with prolonged, focused practice. Exoskeletons and other robotic technology has been introduced, but these systems are typically expensive, bulky, and can only be used in the clinical environment. In this prototyping challenge, you will build and test low-resolution prototypes to explore how we might safely, comfortable, and affordably help to open the hand for individuals with neurologic disorders.

The group came up with some great ideas and designs (and some spectacular failures with important lessons). If you would like to try this prototyping challenge yourself, grab some prototyping supplies and work through our GUIDE.

What if we use our elbow to help open the hand?Sketching out ideas.