Phantom Limb


Phantom Limb

The Alternative Limb Project was approached by games giant Konami to create a bespoke prosthetic limb for an amputee gamer, inspired by the world of Metal Gear Solid, using cutting edge and innovative technologies.

The gamer in question was James Young, a speaker and Biological Science graduate with a passion for tech.

“For so many people, all they see is a missing limb, and that can create awkwardness, discomfort or even misplaced pity. Seeing a bionic arm alters that experience, changes the dialogue – there’s a sense of wonder. I’m not afraid of differences and the opportunities of reflection they provide. I’m excited to see what a human can be, to see our current and our untapped potential…

“Once I had read a great line which stuck in my head on a website where a prosthetic user said ‘I want to take off my limb and leave it in a room, and people will recognise it and know that belongs to me. It reflects part of my personality’. I totally connected with that idea as a biologist, knowing that all parts of our bodies can be recognised as being ours by our unique DNA, so why not add a personal stamp to our artificial limbs.”

1. Leather harness, tailored to James for comfort and fit by Shashi Couhan

2. 3D printed hand (by Open Bionics) which receives signals from electrodes in the harness to form various grips and gestures, using buttons in the forearm. Positions are:

  • Closed fist
  • Open palm
  • Thumbs up
  • Point
  • Pinch
  • Tripod

3. Carbon fibre construction from GTR (motorsport and aerospace manufacturers) making the arm lightweight and very strong.

4. The Social Space: a removable panel in the shoulder with a circle of magnets capable of holding small items (such as a camera, lighting display, recording device etc.) which can be charged or powered by the arm. A 3D file is also available for fans to download and design for the space.

5. Powered by a high voltage lithium battery stored in the bicep.

6. The arm disconnects below the shoulder to enable easy removal without taking off the harness.

7. Mechanical elbow (supplied by Steeper) with a button on the forearm control panel to disengage the lock.

8. Lights run through the contours and gaps in the arm which can be controlled using sliders in the forearm control panel. The lights can also respond to a built-in heart-rate sensor.

9. Bluetooth enabled wrist with USB port, torch and laser. A small screen interface in the wrist connects with James’s phone and can display messages, emails, incoming calls and social media notifications. Wrist rotation half way up the forearm.

10. A bespoke quadcopter (by Mobulair) is housed in the shoulder’s Social Space which James can fly using a bespoke one-handed controller and FPV (first person view) googles.

11. The arm and quadcopter controls are spray-finished in a metallic caramel rum colour, with detailing stencilled on in white.

Project Manager: Sophie de Oliveira Barata

Co-Designer – James Young

Bionic hand: Open Bionics (OB team: Joel Gibbard, Samantha Payne, Jonathan Raines and Olly McBride)

Production of carbon fibre arm parts: GTR (GTR team: Matt Easton and Steve Elliot)

Assistant Mechanical Engineer: Luis Garcia

Electronics: Adrian Godwin

Assistant Concept Artist: Neal Petty

3D modelling artist: Rudi Kolenc

Assistant 3D artist: Zoe O’ Shea

Harness: Shashi Chouhan

Quadcopter and bespoke controller: Ben Lyford and Charlie Robinson

Spray Artist: Lawrence Manning (Kaos)

Photography: Omkaar Kotedia