By: Edmond Durana
Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attraction.” Fathom this; a man operating a smartphone that is docked into his prosthetic arm. You would think that the last sentence is a line from a futuristic science fiction novel. But with imagination and a little persistence, Trevor Prideaux turned this idea into a reality.
Trevor Prideaux, a catering manager from Somerset, England, was born without a left forearm. He was fitted with his first prosthetic arm at the age of 3. When Prideaux wanted to text message or call his loved ones, he had to either place the phone on a flat surface or balance it on his prosthetic arm. He told The Telegraph, “From owning a mobile phone and with the invention of the iPhone, it became clear that this piece of technology was not ideally suited to be used with only one hand.” It was at this point that Prideaux decided to approach this problem head on and provide an elegant solution, embedding the phone into his prosthetic arm.
This past summer, he enlisted the help of Exeter Mobility Center(EMC) to aid in the development of the prosthesis. EMC Lead prosthesist Dave House explained the process to PCWorld: “We started by taking an impression of the mobile phone so that we had an exact shape to work with…….We had to take into account a number of factors including the phone was secure but easy to remove with one hand; the function of the forearm prosthesis was not compromised and ensuring that we could manufacture it again if the phone was replaced and was a different design or size.”
Since Prideaux was initially interested in purchasing an iPhone, he contacted Apple to get a hold of an empty iPhone casing to test out his concept. Unfortunately, Apple refused to provide one. Prideaux then approached Nokia who ultimately agreed to the collaboration. The team working on the project consisted of a technician from Nokia, a prosthesist from EMC, and an undergraduate college student worker. A laminated fiber cast of the Nokia C7 model phone was constructed and then built it into the skin colored limb. After five weeks and a successful test fitting, the custom prosthetic was manufactured and delivered to Prideaux.
The docking station is fixed between, as Prideaux’s calls it, the “stump socket” and the “single knob rotary” of his prosthetic forearm. On the adaptability of the docking station and phone, he told The Telegraph, “The phone slots smoothly and securely within my limb and is easily removable, when required….Now when I get (a) call I can either hold my arm up to my ear or put it on speaker phone. I can also take it out if I need to. Texting is also much easier and a lot safer.”
This proves that imagination and persistence can drive innovation. What was thought of as a crazy idea, Trevor Prideaux dared to dream and see it through. Albert Einstein would be proud.