3D Printing Produces a Miracle

You know, until today I thought the best use for one of those 3D printers like the MakerBot was fashioning a Beethoven bust.

Fortunately for the rest of the world, people better than myself are always looking to use revolutionary technology for revolutionary purposes beyond garnering Youtube hits. In fact 3D printing has recently been used to help a 2 year old girl named Emma. Emma, was born with a rare defect known as arthrogryposis multiplex congenital. Its main effect is weakening and shortening an infant’s muscles and joints to the point they are nearly unusable. After a long and burdensome series of treatments, doctor were able to fix Emma’s legs and get them back to functioning again. However, modern medicine had no answer for Emma’s arms, which they felt she would never be able to use via her own free will again.

That’s where a research team in Deleware came in. Since Emma was so small, and underdeveloped, she would need a device to help her use her arms that was as lightweight as it was durable. Thanks to 3D printing technology, the team was able to build an exoskeleton that augmented Emma’s arm use, and allowed her to use them for the first time with few limitations.

Obviously this is a story of technology overcoming a horror that no one (much less an infant child) should have to deal with. However, watching that video, it’s also obvious that science isn’t the only victor here, as the triumph of human spirit makes a noteworthy appearance as well. The smile on Emma’s face even before being able to use her arms, was nearly identical to the one after, as her unwavering spirit refused to be burdened by mere physical limitations. Only the look in her eyes as she discovered she could do new things like play with blocks, or lift a cup, or a million other little actions changed to reflect a sense of unparalleled wonderment.

It’s that look though that makes it clear that any more research that can be done in this field should push forward with all support and full steam, so that we can continue to see news like this, and similar looks in the eyes of many children for years to come.


The MaKey MaKey; Changing Input One Banana at a Time

Confused by the headline? Well, it’s about to get stranger.

That’s thanks to this new invention called the MaKey MaKey. It’s another project that’s finding success on Kickstarter, and its goal is to inspire the creative side out of everyone that uses it, and try to turn the world into inventors.

And it’s achieving that with little more hardware than a circuit board and some alligator clips.

If you couldn’t watch that video (or if you were just as befuddled as I was when I saw it), I’ll elaborate. The Makey Makey is a small circuit board that provides inputs meant to function in place of your basic mouse and keyboard set up. You simply plug one end of the alligator clips into the inputs you desire and then attach the clips to any item that can conduct any form of electricity (bananas seem to work very well, but a pencil drawing, Play-Doh, or a million other items would theoretically work), and that item now functions as the input device.

Examples shown so far include a series of bananas substituting for the keys of a piano, Play-Doh being formed into the shape of a controller to play Super Mario Bros., and four buckets of water filling in for a Dance Dance Revolution dance pad. But from the looks of it, anything is possible.

Again the device’s main goal is to inspire creativity in its users and to try to blossom the inventor in everyone. It’s seems to be meant mostly for artists, amateur creators, and of course children, where it might ultimately find its biggest success in the toy market.

Of course just like another hot invention of recent times, The MakerBot, I think that the Makey Makey’s biggest contributions lay in the technology the invention is based off of and not the actual invention itself. Still with almost $130,000 dollars raised so far for the Makey Makey, it looks to find success in one field or another immediately, whether or not there is still more promising things it can lead to down the line.