Magic Mouse

3D Printed Wristband turns Prosthetic Hand into a Mouse

3D printed wristband

This 3D printed wristband contains all the necessary components to transform a hand prostheses into an easy-to-use optical mouse.

3D printing technology has done much to improve the design, development, and affordability of prosthetic limbs for amputees.

But there are still substantial areas for improvement, not least of which when it comes to interacting with a personal computer. Something as basic as moving a mouse cursor and clicking icons on a screen is difficult and cumbersome.

David Kaltenbach, Lucas Rex and Maximilian Mahal are a trio of interaction design students at the Weißensee Academy of Art in Berlin. Recognizing that many amputees who formerly worked in manual labor will retrain for office jobs — where they’ll probably need to use a PC — they developed an ingenious pair of bands called “Shortcut“.

With one attached to the wrist and one to the arm, it allows people with prosthetic limbs to click on anything onscreen with full digital dexterity.

One of the two bands was rapidly prototyped on a 3D printer. After successive iterations the final version is injection molded, roughly resembling an oversized paperclip with a round disc attached at one end.

Nonetheless, if development continues and the blueprints are open-sourced, it could feasibly remain as a 3D printed wristband for low-cost and accessibility. Here’s a video outlining the Shortcut Digital Prosthesis concept in full.

3D Printed Wristband is a Digital Prosthesis

Shortcut works by attaching one of the bands on the inside of the wrist, the disc face-down on top of a flat surface. It functions just like a miniature optical mouse, the band housing the sensor that controls the location of a mouse cursor on the screen.

It’s with the second band on the forearm that the real magic happens. This band is equipped with Myo gesture sensors that can detect and recognize muscle impulses. Even without a physical hand, our bodies are capable of performing “phantom gestures”; these signals can be recorded by the Myo band and interpreted as actual movement.

Effectively, the 3D printed wristband acts as the “mouse pointer”, and the user can make a click as though they still have a hand, which the Myo band senses and acts upon.

In recognition of their work so far, Kaltenbach, Rex and Mahal been awarded the STARTS prize by Ars Electronica and the Mart Stam Förderpreis. In terms of next steps, the trio are continuing to refine the Shortcut with the input of German prosthesis company Ottobock and Fab Lab Berlin.

3d printed wristband