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Born without a part of his right arm, Daniel Melville grew up using simple prosthetics that didn’t serve any functional purpose. It wasn’t until he partnered with Open Bionics that he was able to use what the company calls Hero Arms, advanced artificial limbs that permit him to alter his grip and perform everyday activities like drawing, carrying groceries, and playing games on PC.
“There’s a lot I’d love to see [get added in the arms] in the future, but at the moment, they’re doing what I need them to do. Even if I go shopping, that’s still massively helpful,” Melville said.
Melville joined moderator and Sugar Games founder Keisha Howard at GamesBeat Summit 2021 to talk about his experience as an ambassador for Open Bionics and the future of accessibility. And one thing he’d like to see is more video game representation in the Hero Arm lineup (Open Bionics also has prosthetics based on Marvel and Disney properties).
So far, Melville has officially licensed arms based on Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Venom Snake from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Melville mentioned that while representation of the limb-different community isn’t the best in games, characters like Junkrat and McCree in Overwatch or the augmented society seen in Cyberpunk 2077 still offer several opportunities.
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“Having video game-styled arms has been surreal. Having something that was once a concept from a video game and actually bringing it to real life has been insane for [developers], because they gave it to me to wear, and for me to be the first person to wear these arms is just mad,” he said.
While Melville is more than satisfied with the Hero Arms (Open Bionics uses 3D printing-and-scanning to make a unique prosthesis for each customer), he also hopes that advances in technology will provide them with even more functionality. He can foresee a future where you can call someone using the bionic arm, plug it into a PC to update software, or even as another form of contactless payment (like waving the hand over a card reader).
He’d also like finer motor control so that he can play certain games better, especially those on consoles.
“Basically, I’d just love to see more techie stuff in the arm, which I’m sure [companies like Open Bionics] will add in the future and it’s just so exciting to be a part of,” said Melville.
But most important, he’d also like to see the Hero Arm community continue to grow, and to reach people who’d benefit from the prosthetics but can’t afford them. That’s why Melville joined the board of trustees for the Open Bionics Foundation, a privately funded organization that offers financial assistance for adults and families looking to purchase a Hero Arm.
“I’m actually seeing the Hero Arm community grow day by day. It was once me, and now there’s a couple — I don’t know if there’s 1,000 [people] yet — but it is growing and growing. And it’s great to meet these people in the community,” he said.
The foundation has helped provide Hero Arms to people all over the world, including in America and parts of Europe.
“I was given an opportunity to wear this amazing arm, and I want others to have an opportunity to wear it as well and really live the life they want to lead,” said Melville.
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