16 June 2023

Imagine having a hand prosthesis for only 250 euros that you can control with your own voice. That's exactly what Pablo Montoyo Gomis, an exchange student from Spain, has developed.

Pablo Montoyo Gomis testing voice-controlled prosthesis.
Pablo Montoyo Gomis testing voice-controlled prosthesis. Photo: Teiksma Buseva. 

Pablo Montoyo Gomis has developed the hand prosthesis as a master's project in mechatronics at Linköping University. The hand prosthesis consists of 3D-printed components and standard parts that can be easily purchased on hobby websites. He plans to make the entire project available online for everyone to use.

His master's thesis focuses on designing and creating a replacement prosthesis for individuals with transradial amputation, meaning the amputation of the hand and part of the forearm. The goal is to develop a cost-effective prosthesis with movable fingers and a wrist, utilising voice control for smoother interaction between the user and the prosthesis.
The project is blend of mechanics and electronics found within the field of mechatronics. With the help of pre-programmed voice commands, the prosthetic hand can perform common movements or grasp everyday objects. Pablo Montoyo Gomis not only presented a theoretical functional description but also developed a prototype where he experimented with voice programming and motions.

Systematic work behind the prototype

To achieve these goals,Pablo Montoyo Gomis has followed a systematic approach. After identifying the users' needs, he selected servo motors and drive systems for the prosthesis. He then designed and manufactured the mechanical parts that make up the hand itself, using a 3D printer. Subsequently, he equipped the prosthesis with voice control and programmed it to respond to voice commands. This feature makes it easier for a user to control the prosthesis. Unexpectedly, the prosthesis also includes a built-in laser pointer, and one can even challenge the hand to a game of rock-paper-scissors if feeling bored.

"Having a laser pointer is something that provides an unexpected additional functionality. I am glad about the possibilities the laser pointer offers and how it can enhance the users' experience," says Pablo Montoyo Gomis.

He is passionate about creating something that many can use and looks forward to making the project publicly accessible. He envisions a future where anyone with access to 3D printing technology and basic knowledge can use his designs to build prostheses for a loved one or anyone in need. By making the blueprints available for download, Pablo Montoyo Gomis aims to provide others with the opportunity to create personalized solutions or further develop functionalities.

"My background is in mechatronics, and that's where my focus lies. But I really want to create something that is accessible, can be used by many, and doesn't cost a fortune," says Pablo Montoyo Gomis.

Personal development and cherished memories

During his time at Linköping University, Pablo Montoyo Gomis has received invaluable support from his supervisor and examiner, Johan Hedbrant and Anton Wiberg. Pablo Montoyo Gomis explains that their guidance and expertise have not only helped him succeed academically but also contributed to his personal development. Student talking with the teacher about the project. Pablo Montoyo Gomis and Anton Wiberg talking about the project. Photo: Teiksma Buseva

Looking back on his time at Linköping University, Pablo Montoyo Gomis has fond memories of two places on campus that have been particularly meaningful to him.

"I really like Campushallen and the library," cheerfully says Pablo Montoyo Gomis.

The gym provided him with space to be physically active, while the library served as a sanctuary for in-depth research, enabling him to broaden his studies and expand his knowledge.

When asked about his plans for the future, Pablo Montoyo Gomis expressed his excitement about exploring job opportunities after completing his studies. Although he is unsure whether he will stay in Spain or explore other European countries, he is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

Demonstration of voice-controlled prosthesis

Philosophical thought of supervisor

Johan Hedbrant was the supervisor of Pablo Montoyo Gomis, and here you can read his story about what it was like to supervise the student.

It was fun to supervise Pablo. He was very independent, and besides, our workshop and other knowledgeable colleagues were available.

During the supervision, we discussed an interesting question: the significance of the unexpected and humor.

Losing a hand is a traumatic experience that is difficult to put into words. Previous prostheses were traditionally designed to resemble a natural hand. They were covered in flesh-colored soft plastic and could be very expensive depending on the technology. A prosthesis was considered a serious matter. It was important not to appear handicapped.

But what if the prosthetic hand could offer additional functionality? What if it could give a thumbs up or a high-five when the user accomplished something, wave when meeting in the hallway, extend the pinky finger in an English upper-class manner when lifting a teacup to the mouth.

Perhaps the prosthetic hand could be a system with different types of hands, one aesthetic and stylish, one raw and strong, one fast and precise, one with seven fingers and a tiny, tiny screwdriver, one that could withstand high heat.

Under the right conditions, this could create a smile and transform the thought from limitation to possibility. A prosthesis that becomes something creative and unique. It would be evident that one is not just handicapped but also has opportunities for great creativity and personal expression.

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