Prosthetic Design Innovation

emPOWER by BionX Medical Technologies, Inc.

Research, Usability, Industrial Design, Mechanism Engineering, FEA Analysis, Manufacturing Fixtures

BionX commercialized a new generation of powered prostheses that overcome the limitations of passive limbs. The emPOWER is a bionic lower leg system designed to replace lost muscle function for below-the-knee amputees enabling them to walk faster and with less effort on all terrain.

Our background and experience developing a wide variety of electro-mechanical, medical, and consumer products—including motorized cardiac-imaging systems and haptic interface devices, consumer and medical robotics, and advanced electro-mechanical technology products—proved to be a great match for BionX. Dr. Hugh Herr, founder of BionX (iWalk), asked us to provide the mechanical engineering and industrial design services for the development of the emPOWER, to bring it from its early laboratory configuration to the fully commercialized solution available today.

Challenge

BionX gave us a proof of concept prototype at the start of the program, and asked for help evolving it into a true commercial design. We undertook extensive mechanical engineering development, system integration, and testing to achieve the target performance, size, weight, reliability, cost, and noise requirements for this challenging device application. We also developed a variety of assembly and calibration fixtures to support the manufacturing and assembly of the emPOWER device, as well as the software application used by prosthetists to tune the device.

Result

The emPower device is equipped with an active, motor-driven ankle joint, making it the only prosthesis in the world with powered propulsion. The device has received rave reviews from amputee patients, and won an MDEA Design Excellence Award.

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