The night before last I printed some original Robohand parts to have on hand for our meeting. It's cool that these all fit as one bed of parts. Regardless of the simplicity, there is something really nice about the adaptive quality of this design and how it can be fit to a variety of people. You might wonder why I am spending all of this time printing parts before we meet Shea, but I think it is important to understand the entire development of this project and the various ways that people have solved or attempted to solve various issues. Doing this helps me to wrap my head around a problem. Enough about that though.
Adream and I met with Shea and her family last night. We were able to meet her mother, father, and sister as well. It was such a joy to be able to finally meet each other face to face. We gave Shea and her family a tour of the Digital Craft Research Lab and we showed them some of the various pieces of equipment that we have and how we can use them. Shea is a big fan of technology and knowing how things work and she seemed enthralled by everything we showed her. We spent some time talking about our plan to make a hand for Shea and asked Shea if she would be willing to participate in a future class that Adream and I will be teaching to our students this semester. We plan on making Shea a basic "Robohand-style" hand that we can fit to her right away. We are hoping Shea will be interested in giving our students feedback on what works well and what doesn't work so well with her hand as well as giving us design and aesthetic advice. Shea is very interested in art and design so we lucked out with finding someone who shares our passion for making and creativity. Adream and I plan on continuing to research and develop designs for future prosthetic hands for Shea and looking at other activities that she does and where we would could adapt her hand or make improvements. We are going to involve our college students in the research and development and use this as an opportunity to teach our students how to research a problem, engage with a user, problem solve, fabricate, test, and refine. We also plan on approaching Children's Hospital to inquire if there are other children who would like to participate in our course and work with us to develop their own bespoke hands. We are looking for approximately 10 children that we could assist as a part of the class.
Shea shared that her class at school is following our progress and that she is giving them updates. I am hoping that at some point, I can visit her class and we can show her friends some of the things we can do with some of the technology that we are using. We spent some time talking about computer modeling, 3D scanning, and how to make a design from scratch. Next time she visits we'll go over how to slice the model and set-up the printer. Again, we're fortunate that Shea is actually interested in the "how-to" part of this. I have a feeling that she is going to have a lot of info to share with family and friends.
Once we had talked through our plan we talked about favorite colors, activities that Shea does, and her "likes". I showed Shea and Myla our 3D scanner and we took some scans to show them how it works. I took some scans of Shea's unaffected hand and her affected hand and then we took some measurements and made some outlines on paper. This information will give us the basis for scaling our models and getting materials for the production of the first hand. Our next visit will include making a mold of Shea's hands to have for future reference. I will be using dental based alginate for the mold and then we can make some solid arms from those molds to use in the lab for future hand development. We will also be fitting some thermoplastic to form a gauntlet and hand cap for the fist hand that we can fabricate around. I ordered some bright colored thermoplastic today and a bunch of other materials so Shea will have some options for colors and style. I'll post more on the materials I purchased in my next post.
Adream set up a private blog where we will document things in more detail and have additional pictures of the things we're doing. Shea will also be able to use this to post ideas of things that she has for her hand as well as document her journey with the development of the hand(s). I will be sure to share posts on my usual blog and with the e-NABLE group, but will keep some of the content private. We want to be extra careful not to be too intrusive into Shea's life and I hope everyone out there reading this understands this.
Ranee, just let me now if I've overstepped by putting the digital images of your girls up here on this public blog and I'll remove them right away.