Student makes a 3D-printed, voice-controlled robotic arm

A 17-year-old Maker has created a voice-controlled robotic arm with the help of 3D printing and Arduino.

You know, the Maker Movement just keeps on amazing us. It goes to show that, with nothing more than some low-cost hardware, a 3D printer and a little ingenuity, an idea can go on to have a life-changing, lasting effect on the world. Take 17-year-old Nilay Mehta, for instance.


The Irvine, California-based high school student has developed an inexpensive, 3D-printed robotic arm programmed to mimic the movements of a human hand, such as pinching, grabbing or holding a utensil. Using voice commands through a small, two prong microphone attached to the limb, the hand carries out specific actions at the request of its wearer.

“You can say ‘spoon’ and the hand will make a shape that will be able to hold a spoon,” Mehta explains.

In terms of hardware, the award-winning project is comprised of an Arduino, a set of servo motors, sEMG electrodes, a Bluetooth module and an EasyVR shield.


“With the software side of the project, I split up the different components for EMG (for muscle control) and voice control. In order to maximize my efficiency, I split up the project into several smaller projects and combined each segment one by one. I first worked with the EMG side and determined that a conditional statement between three variables gave the most accurate results.” the Maker writes.

This project is only one of countless examples that demonstrate the pivotal role 3D printing continues to play in making prosthetics accessible to those in need — all at a fraction of the cost of its high-end counterparts. Compared to the $3,000 to $30,000 families used to have shell out for an artificial limb, resources originating from the Maker Movement have allowed Mehta to bring his idea to life for under $260.

“For kids who are growing, they have to change their prosthetics every six to eight months,” Mehta adds. By using inexpensive 3D-printed components, the robotic arm can be resized without having to dig deep into wallets. Looking ahead, the student hopes to revamp its design so that it would be more functional.

[h/t Daily Dot]

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