Creating bionik superheroes

Innovation in healthcare
December 23, 2016
 

Creating bionic superheroes

It began four years ago, when two mechatronics engineering students at SZABIST, Anas Niaz and Ovais Hussain Qureshi, were brainstorming possibilities for their final semester project. They noticed how disabled children tend to be ostracised – which led them to start a not-for-profit, 3D printing prosthetic company named Bioniks (bionic denotes artificial limbs or body parts that are electronically or mechanically powered). The company completed their first successful implant recently. In line with their vision of “giving the world a helping hand”, Bioniks began to work on prosthetic prototypes that were not only lightweight (200 grams for a child’s prosthetic arm compared to the 1,500 grams prosthetic available in the market), but also designed with superhero themes to appeal to their primary target audience: disabled children. In July 2016, Mir Bayyan Baloch, a five-year-old boy with an arm deformity, became the first child in Pakistan to receive a specially designed 3D printed mechanical (or manual) prosthetic. When Baloch’s father contacted Bioniks, little did he know that a boy who had become too introverted to even attend school because he was ‘different’, would turn into the popular ‘Iron Man’ boy, thanks to his mechanical arm that looks like a gadget from a sci-fi movie, and even shoots beams of light, just like his favourite superhero. “We could not give Baloch a motorised prosthetic because he is too young and his shoulder muscles are not strong enough to bear the weight.” However, Niaz and Qureshi have started working on developing a robotic arm for Baloch, which will be implanted as he grows up and becomes more adept at controlling and manoeuvring his mechanical one. Baloch’s superhero arm implant has made waves internationally and Bioniks have received requests for their unique prosthetics from many countries, including Bahrain and Philippines, and Niaz says they have now completed their first online order for a boy in Egypt: “We conducted the sizing session on Skype and couriered the prosthetic once it was printed.” .