SmartARM is the newest technology to impress CEO Satya Nadella and the rest of the Microsoft team, according to TechCrunch. Every year, the company holds a competition called the Imagine Cup, which brings together the brightest young engineering and design student to award a $85,000 prize and a mentoring session with Nadella to the team with the most innovative technological invention that solves real-world problems.
Nadella, blown away by the amount of young talent at this years Cup, didn’t quite know how to offer up advice to students who are much more ambitious than he admits he was when he was their age. “Last night I was thinking, ‘What advice can I give people who have accomplished so much at such a young age?” mused Nadella on stage in his presentation to the competitors. ’“And I said, I should go back to when I was your age and doing great things. Then I realized…I definitely wouldn’t have made these finals.”
One of the major contenders in the semi-finals was a group of Pakistani women who developed an innovative pregnancy monitor to help reduce the frequency of stillborns. But the team that took the prize was ultimately smartARM, who built a prosthetic arm that uses straightforward but state-of-the-art technology in a new, unique way that will revolutionize the prosthetic industry.
The arm is 3D-printed, and has its own vision system via a camera built into the palm. The camera identifies what the user will most likely want to pick up, classifies it, and adjusts its grip depending on what kind of item it is. This is a huge upgrade from the current world of prosthetic arms, which are usually completely dysfunctional or astronomically expensive.
The arm is still relatively limited, but it will be useful for simple, everyday tasks. Its by no means a universal hand replacement, but, according to the team, its price will remain below $100 and is a huge upgrade for people looking at a pincer arm as their best option. And the arm comes with a subscription that allows the arm to learn about the user and adopt their patterns over time.