Oleg Galtsev, a 32-year-old software engineer, developed a cheap, open-source prosthetic arm in his Belarus basement for his father, Sergei Galtsev, a former Soviet army captain who lost his right arm in an explosion on a military firing range when Oleg was 4 years old.
The younger Galtsev noticed that around the world, prostheses were evolving from simply looking like a limb to behaving like one. When he searched for an advanced prosthesis in Belarus, he found that nothing was available. So he partnered with engineer Sergei Arefyev to develop an artificial arm that is inexpensive and easy to put together.
“We wanted to create a simple and affordable prosthesis,” Oleg told Reuters.
Using a mix of 3D-printed parts and items bought on the Internet, the duo developed MyoTriton, a prosthetic arm they say is 10 times cheaper than the $15,000 mechanical prostheses from major manufacturers. The current design lacks sensor control, however.
The video of the arm’s final tests hit almost 1 million view on YouTube.
The arm, developed in the basement of a residential building in Minsk, is designed to be easily put together and accessible for a broad population. “It’s like Lego, designed for people who are not at easy with electronics: just put the parts together. If I managed it, then others can do it, too,” he said.
The two engineers chose to make all of their designs and software available for free on the internet. “We did not patent it as it made more sense to spend money on development,” Oleg told the news outlet.
Oleg’s father was forced to end his military career following his accident and the family relocated back to their hometown of Chechersk in what is now Belarus, according to Reuters.
In another YouTube video, Oleg’s father can be seen using the device to complete chores around the house and pick up a glass a juice that he poured himself. “It is a very good thing, and it can help so many people,” he told the news service.