Advancements in medicine, robotics, and 3D printing have transformed the intersection between the human body and technology.
For the researchers and innovators around the world working to improve the field of prosthetics, design plays a critical role in humanizing new technology, allowing people to customize and integrate devices into their lives like never before. From sculpting ocular prostheses to crowdsourcing affordable 3D-printed hands, this exhibition surveys the past, present, and future of prosthetic design on a global scale. Over 35 case studies featuring real stories from professional athletes, veterans, kids learning to live with limb difference, and more consider contemporary prosthetic design from functional, aesthetic, and social perspectives. Spanning DIY-inventions to the development of mind-controlled bionic limbs, stories from patients, clinicians, designers, and artists demonstrate the meaningful impact of human-centered design on our lives, and ultimately, the future of our mobility.
Leading performance and prosthetics manufacturers are working closely with amputees to research and create devices that enable them to resume their active lifestyles and compete in the athletic arena. New technology has sparked advancements in adaptive design and improved the functionality of running prostheses to the point where amputees have surpassed non-amputees in athletic performance, granting individuals with limb differences the abilities they require to succeed through state of the art design. From recreational users to paralympic champions, athletes are customizing are using advanced prosthetic design to reclaim active lifestyles and even beat world records.
80% of people in need of prosthetic care live in the developing world where limb-loss is frequently caused by war, violent conflict, natural disasters, unsafe working conditions, or lack of healthcare. Many individuals in both impoverished regions and more developed countries often lack the means to afford prosthetic devices, and amputees can also face debilitating social stigmatization. New organizations, however, have devoted themselves to providing affordable prostheses and aid to regions in need of economic development, ensuring that people receive the care they need to help reclaim their independence and place in society. Using 3D printing technology and new affordable materials to provide low-cost prostheses is paving the way for a better future in which all individuals with limb differences will have access to quality care and improved lives.
Artistic expression is increasingly becoming a focal point of prosthetics, and a new shift in bringing style and aesthetics to otherwise mechanical and robotic devices is ushering in a creative movement in bespoke design. Prosthetics can now be painted with matched skin tones and individualized features, personalized with unique patterns and photos, and even adorned with graphics and crystals. Obstacles become inspiration for prosthetic design as wearers and artists alike are enabled to collaborate and pave the way for an increasingly innovative process centered on artistic creation over ability. Through transforming devices into fashion accessories and bespoke pieces of art, people are redefining their prostheses as forms of self expression and individuality.
Prosthetic technology has advanced considerably over the past decade as designers and engineers collaborate to produce increasingly innovative and functional devices. Until recently, the technology required to operate the upper extremities was not mature enough to support the needs of amputees. However, developments in myoelectric design are getting closer to mirroring the intricacies of the human hand; new methods and materials have led to waterproof innovations; 3D printing and scanning technology enable designers to prototype and distribute prostheses faster than ever before; and software and smartphone apps are increasingly integrated into designs, allowing advances mobility to be easily accessed through the touch of a screen. As advancements in prosthetics and bionics continue to evolve structurally, neurologically, and dynamically, new design continues to spark conversation about just how far these innovations can extend the capabilities of the human body.