Bluetooth Technology Opens Inexpensive Prosthetic Market
15-year-old Shiva Nathan came up with his Bluetooth Breakthrough Award student entry while working on an EEG (Electroencephalography)-based video game. In 2011, while developing the EEG MindWave Mobile headset video game, Shiva’s priorities changed. A member of his extended family lost both arms. “She received prosthetics but they were expensive and never gave her the freedom she needed,” said Shiva. Shiva took up the challenge and instead of using the MindWave Mobile for gaming decided to design a prosthetic arm controlled by the headset.
Shiva’s research found that every year 185,000 amputation surgeries are required in the US. Prosthetics can be very expensive especially for “smart” ones—can run upwards of $40,000. There are simpler models but these are harder to use and not as natural. Combining his love of robotics, video games and Science, Shiva’s idea was to develop a low-cost, smart prosthetic—under $1,000—controlled by user’s brainwaves.
The Brain Control Interface (BCI) transhumeral prosthetic uses the MindWave Mobile headset and Bluetooth® technology transmitters to control it. “The headset measures the user’s brainwaves and sends the information via Bluetooth to the prosthetic. The user just needs to concentrate on moving the fingers and the fingers will move. Relaxing causes the elbow to rotate,” said Shiva. Shiva built the Arduino Prosthetic using inexpensive hardware available at any hardware store. Without a wireless transmission mechanism, the headset would require cabling to transmit information to the microcontroller, “without Bluetooth, the prosthetic device’s functionality would be seriously hindered,” said Shiva.
One of Shiva’s goals is for people to construct and program their own prosthetic using the schematics, parts list and programs online free. “As 3D printing technology becomes more comit should be easier to fabricate an Arduino-based prosthetic,” said Shiva. If Shiva wins the competition, he wants to use the $5,000 student award to improve the prosthetic design and appearance and improving its overall quality.
Things to know about Shiva:
- His house is full of technology — “From Kindles to Playstations and iPads to MacBooks, there is a lot of technology in the house. I use it to solve problems and make tasks more simple and efficient.”
- Loves robotics — “I participate in my school’s robotic club. We compete in the FTC robotics challenges. I am also working with my town to establish a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) center to advance STEM awareness.”
- He programs video games and has published an app called Firewall: Complete the Circuit
- Will found his own robotics company to explore advanced human-machine interfaces and technologies