Gamer gets a high-tech bionic limb

Packed with gadgets, James Young’s robotic prosthesis also houses a drone.

James Young, a biological scientist from London, got caught under a train in 2012. He lost his left leg from below the knee and later had to have his left arm amputated. According to Metro, he spent three and a half months in the hospital, trying to learn to walk again. Young describes the standard prosthetic arm he was given after recovery as “pretty uninspiring”. So when he was the chance to do something about the prosthesis, he jumped at the opportunity.

Young was fortunate enough to come across an advert that was looking for amputees with an interest in gaming. Since he considers himself an avid gamer, he responded immediately, “There was a pamphlet from the Alternative Limb Project, and I thought it was really cool”. According to Metro, Young added, “I saw they were looking for an amputee, so I was excited.”

The opportunity came about through the Phantom Limb Project, a collaboration between Sophie de Oliveira Barata from the Alternative Limb Project and Konami’s Metal Gear Solid game designers. Young worked closely with de Oliveira Barata to custom design his prosthetic limb. The final product is inspired by Solid Snake’s bionic limb, a character in the Metal Gear Solid V game.

Young and de Oliveira Barata worked with a series of skilled of engineers, roboticists and designers to create the limb, which includes an array of tech and gadgets. The complete prosthetic arm, worth 90 000 dollars, was made using a 3D printer and boasts fully controllable fingers, a smartwatch, a laser, a phone charging USB port and a drone tucked into the shoulder.

“Sophie thought drones were really cool, I thought drones were really cool,” says Young of the design’s inspiration.

Young is able to control the detachable arm via commands that his shoulder muscles send to sensors. But it isn’t completely independent yet. It relies on assistance from his right arm to function. In order for it work on its own, Young will have to undergo an osseointegration procedure, which will connect the arm directly to his bone using titanium. He launched a GoFundMe campaign in order to raise funds for the operation.