Rickee Charbonneau’s medal award-winning AmpGear is a crowdsourced prosthesis design project that goes beyond the limits of the human hand and can be made at home on a 3D printer. Here’s how Charbonneau describes it:
AmpGear is an online crowdsourcing portal that collects designs and ideas from amputees and their communities (i.e., AmpGadgets) to be then marketed and sold to the community.
The concept for this project aims to completely shift the paradigm of limb replacement from the current, strictly bound, and nearly obsessive aim to replicate hand function, towards an open discourse of prostheses as accessory tools.
This project involves the use of 3D printing technology to allow for the prosthetic hand and its attachments to be quickly and cheaply printed at home with a desktop 3D printer, such as the Makerbot, or through a local 3D printing service.
The components of my project are the following:
1. The prosthetic hand supporting multiple task-specific attachments
2. An online community that actively participates in innovating the product by designing new attachments
3. Makers, designers and inventors that are interested in creating solutions to various problems
4. Amputees, individuals with limb deficiencies and their peers
What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?
My inspiration for this project stems from the fact that limb loss has a wide variety of social and functional implications that have not been appropriately addressed. On the one hand, a wide variety of engineering projects have sprung up over the years with the goal of replicating limb function. On the other hand, emerging critical initiatives aim at challenging body aesthetics. Although some of these initiatives have been moderately successful, prostheses development continues to be a costly and unsustainable endeavour and its practical, commercial applications remain elusive.
Working with the inclusive design research centre has opened my eyes to a lot of large issues in design and this project is my response to some that I have been exposed to.
What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?
The most rewarding experience in terms of learning new tools for me in this process was learning to use and maintain desktop 3D printers. As a maker, having this skill opens up a world of possibilities for my work.
What aspect of this project are you the most proud of?
I am proud of how innovative this project is and of how much potential it has. I worked very hard to produce a very strong concept that could translate well into a marketable product.
How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?
Although my cohort is a small one, the work we have produced as a small group was all very strong. Learning that I was the medal winner for my program (and the first ever medal awarded to the Digital Futures program) was really exciting! I told my close friends and family right away.
What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?
My fondest memory will always be the experience I shared with my two other Digital Futures “pioneers.” I won’t have to miss them much though, because we still spend most of our time tinkering on projects together.
What are you planning to do next?
I am hoping to take my thesis project to the next level in the coming months, and I will be attending OCAD again in the fall as I begin my Graduate studies in Inclusive Design.
Find out more about Rickee Charbonneau