Superheroes Built From Scratch


It’s no secret that Google has a broad spectrum of interests, and they’ve even got a new parent company to prove it. Recently, the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, which strives to spur innovation that helps “create more access and opportunity for the one billion people living with disabilities,” granted $600,000 to e-NABLE, a nonprofit organization that uses tools like 3D printing and bionics to create solutions for the disabled.

Examples are the hot pink bionic hand that e-NABLE created for a little girl, Ari Solorio, who was born without a hand. e-NABLE, the Google-funded nonprofit organization of volunteers in charge of creating Ari’s bionic hand, takes advantage of the growing 3D printing trend and the do-it-yourself movement. AIO Robotics supplied all the 3D software responsible for creating the device, and so far about 40 have been made.

These prosthetics, rather than awkwardly attempting to imitate human flesh, are brightly colored and look like something out of an Iron Man comic, some with claws and flashing lights. They are designed with the intention of helping kids take pride in their artificial limbs, rather than be embarrassed by them.

e-NABLE has made it clear that subtle is not their style–and kids are loving it.

What Sparks Our Fire: Technology designs that are not only functional, but fun for kids and help

Working out the bugs

Despite advancements in technology, robotic sensors have fallen short of even the most inefficient human senses. But thanks to some unique experiments with insects and mold, this may soon change.

The first experiment uses slime mold to control facial expressions. Much like the average teenager, slime mold avoids light and has the ability to find the most efficient route to food. Scientists at Bristol Robotics Lab, have attached yellow slime mold to a robot head and used the slime’s natural tendencies to control facial expressions.

The second experiment uses moths to control a tracking ball. Researchers at the University of Tokyo, were able to control a wheeled robot with pheromones from a moth, giving the robot a sense of smell. The results were somewhat surprising, finding a dramatic increase in response time over conventional chemical sensors. This type of technology is currently being employed in chemical spill robots to improve clean up time.

What sparked our fire: The use of biomimicry to evolve robotic sensors.

What’s in store for tomorrow’s robotic sensory organs?


-Canopy Team