A US team from the University of Pennsylvania has taken out the 2013 James Dyson Award with the Titan Arm, an upper body exoskeleton that augments human strength. The team will receive the £30,000 (US$48,260) first prize, with an additional £10,000 (US$16,100) going to the University Of Pennsylvania Engineering department. Competing against 650 international entries, which were whittled down to 20 finalists, the Titan Arm shared the limelight with two runners up, who will each take home £10,000.


Titan Arm

The Titan Arm is a lightweight, battery-powered upper-body exoskeleton that augments the wearer’s arm strength by 18 kg (40 lb) to help reduce fatigue. The device also braces the back to encourage proper lifting posture and records detailed feedback of performance for users and doctors.

The result of eight months of development by a team of mechanical engineering students, it’s aimed at laborers who do repetitive heavy lifting, physical therapy patients, and individuals who need muscular support and aid in fine motor control.

Another goal of the team was to bring the cost of an exoskeletal system down from the US$100,000 range down to less than US$2,000. As part of this effort, the team plans to make the Titan available as an open source project for further development.

Describing the Winner, James Dyson says, "Titan Arm is obviously an ingenious design, but the team’s use of modern, rapid – and relatively inexpensive – manufacturing techniques makes the project even more compelling."

Runners up

Cortex Fracture Support System

The first runner up will be familiar to Gizmag readers. It’s the Cortex Fracture Support system from New Zealand. Inspired by biological honeycomb structures, Cortex is a 3D-printed cast made out of recyclable plastic that weighs under 500 g (17.6 oz). It’s designed to provide the same support as a conventional plaster cast without the weight, smell or scratchiness.


The other runner up is the KARI, which is small, two-wheeled trailer and truck designed to be pulled by hand or attached to a bicycle using a simple Velcro fastener while keeping it at the same angle in both modes. In addition, its dimensions are set to allow it to fit through doorways and be taken on public transport, such as buses, trams, and trains. It can carry both shopping bags and moving boxes.

Congratulations to all the winners and all the finalists. The Titan Arm team talk about their invention in the following video.

View gallery - 24 images