Hy5 is the name of a very unique, hydraulically controlled prosthetic hand. Clinical testing will be starting soon and the Hy5 will be released to the market in 2017. Prevas has contributed to development. Jos Poirters, CTO at Hy5 Pro AS, shares the story of his dream come true – enabling the highest possible quality of life for all people in need of a hand prosthetic.
Assignment: Development partner. Help to complete the prosthetic hand and the necessary paperwork with respect to firmware programming and electronics, needed for CE marking. Developed the electronic designs and frameworks for clinical trials with 10 Hy5 devices.
THE IDEA CAME TO me about 15 years ago when I was working as a mechanical engineer for the theme park “De Efteling” in the Netherlands. They had made enormous investments in technically advanced attractions, including high-tech figures that had hands with moving fingers. Movement of the hands was powered by electric motors and the hands consisted of many small fragile parts, quite similar to today’s hand prosthetics. Downtime for the hands was high and they were expensive to maintain. My job was to come up with different, more maintenance-friendly alternatives. One of my solutions involved micro-hydraulics.
“After leaving the Netherlands for Norway, I started designing and building hand prosthetics. It’s important to understand that a robotic hand is totally different from a conventional hand prosthetic because hand prosthetic can only use the human hand for building volume. The hydraulics have to be fully designed and built from the start. The challenge in designing a hand that occupies only a certain space, is light, fast, strong, robust, looks like a human hand and has high functionality is daunting. Many of these properties are counter-productive to other properties. The challenge was therefore to design a hand prosthetic with a balanced combination of all of these properties. Some of the properties can be changed within certain boundaries using electronics and software, which is advantageous for different people with different needs.
STARTUP AND CE MARKING
“’The company Hy5Pro AS was founded in March 2015 with Christian Fredrik Stray, Michael Holland, Øyvind Granaasen Fougner and myself. Prevas was engaged as an external consultant around October 2015. We added the expertise that I was lacking as a mechanical engineer.
“Prevas helped us with the necessary paperwork with respect to firmware programming and electronics, which we needed for CE marking. The team from Prevas has encouraged us to ask ourselves critical questions. And last but not least, Prevas has helped us to ask the right questions concerning the safety of the Hy5. After initial meetings and based on the gathered information, Prevas developed the electronic designs and frameworks so that we could perform the clinical trials with 10 Hy5 devices in a real-world environment. The people we have been working with from Prevas are highly skilled.
“The clinical trials will be conducted in a university hospital environment by orthopedic engineers and physiotherapists, and overseen by an independent third party who together with the university, will draft a report of the findings from these tests.
PRODUCTS THAT PROVIDE BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
“Our company is striving to provide better quality of life for people in need of hand prosthetics. We want to do this worldwide, both in developed and in developing countries. To accomplish this goal, the Hy5 is our first product in a range of better-quality-of-life products. It’s exciting to hear what people think about the functionality of the Hy5. Thus far, test-users and technical- and orthopaedic experts have provided very positive feedback and their input is why the Hy5 looks the way it does today.
“In January, Prevas and Hy5 Pro were awarded financial support through the EU and EUREKA’s research program Eurostars for their contributions to a project called Hands4All. Hy5 Pro and Prevas will continue their collaboration and the project will run for another two years with the goal of developing an even better Hy5, as well as models in smaller sizes for women and children.
“We are aiming for a product that will function problem-free between service intervals. These intervals are naturally very much dependent on the user. Some use their prosthetic as a hammer or a crowbar. The Hy5 should be able to withstand rough handling, specifically because of its titanium fingers, but the mechanical and use limits first need to be tested by SINTEF (a technical research institute in Norway). The Hy5 technology can be used in many other application areas and in many other market segments, including as remotely controlled grippers. Our technology is protected under three approved patent applications and we are filing a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) this year. A PCT will allow us to apply for global patent protection.
“The Hy5 has only a fraction of the capabilities of the human hand and can by no means be compared to this marvel of nature. But if the Hy5 is as robust and functional as we hope, it will definitely be able to help users to attain a better quality of life.”
Do you want to know more about this project or find out what Prevas can do for you, please contact us.
Robert Tönhardt, Region Manager Prevas AB, e-mail