The Open Hand Project: A Low Cost Robotic Hand

The Open Hand Project is an open source initiative with the goal of making robotic prosthetic hands more accessible to amputees.
Joel Gibbard
697 Facebook Friends
United Kingdom
11 Team Members

It's a year on from the campaign now but we're still up to loads of really cool stuff! Visit to see what the future holds and to get updates on the Open Hand Project!

BBCWIRED - TechCrunch - SkyNEWSRoboHub - Hack A Day - 3Ders - Bristol Post - EbD

The Open Hand Project aims to make advanced prosthetic hands more accessible to amputees. The Dextrus hand is the realization of this goal, it's a low-cost robotic hand that offers much of the functionality of a human hand. Ultimately, these hands will be sold for under $1000 (£630).

The Open Hand Project is open-source, which means all of the plans to make a robotic hand will be published online with no patents, anyone has the right to make their own and even sell it themselves. You're funding the full development of the hand with the Open Hand Project, after that companies will be able to use the designs and sell the hands all over the world. This really helps get these devices out to developing countries and places where import taxes might otherwise increase the cost of distribution.

The Dextrus hand is for anyone who wants an advanced robotic hand. This could be an amputee who wants a little more than a metal hook, a researcher who's looking into control systems for telepresence robots or perhaps a hobbyist who is making a humanoid robot.

Chef Liam Corbett lost his hand to meningitis two years ago and is working with me to test the Dextrus hand. He had great things to say about the latest prototype.

"I would be proud to wear this, it would make me feel more confident"

"I think it's certainly going to enable me to do the finer things in life which I haven't been able to do with the hook"

If you don't need a robot hand don't worry, you can still support the Open Hand Project and help people like Liam by getting one of the great perks on the right hand side of this page and by sharing this page on social media sites.

The Dextrus hand works much like a human hand. It uses electric motors instead of muscles and steel cables instead of tendons. 3D printed plastic parts work like bones and a rubber coating acts as the skin. All of these parts are controlled by electronics to give it a natural movement that can handle all sorts of different objects.

The hand can be connected to an existing prosthesis using a standard connector to give an amputee another option. It uses stick-on electrodes to read signals from their remaining muscles, which can control the hand, telling it to open or close.

The fingers are individually powered and each one can sense when an object is impeding its movement. This gives it the ability to grasp objects gently and means the fingers can really wrap around unusual shapes to grip them firmly.

1. One day, you could need this! It's worth a £15 donation just for the peace of mind to know that it will be available when you might need it.

2. It's an "all or nothing" campaign. If the funds aren't raised, you get all of your money back.

3. You can get a great perk in exchange for your pledge. Winter is coming here in the Northern Hemisphere and we could all do with a pair of warm gloves!

4. You're giving money to a fantastic cause, this could help thousands of people around the world.

5. Every donation helps, even £1 really helps to keep the campaign moving and build awareness. You can keep the amount anonymous if you want to!

*** Check out the competition at the bottom of the page to win £600! ***

At the moment a full working prototype of the dextrus hand has been built. The core electronics have been bread-boarded and work, and the software has been prototyped on a PC. Everything works but it's not yet as mobile or as polished as it will become.

The next thing to do will be to design and prototype the rest of the electronics and build everything onto printed circuit boards. The design of the hand needs to be refined and tested to make sure that it's robust and functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. National Instruments have generously provided test equipment to help with this process. National Instruments are the industry leaders in test and measurement, you can check out some of the great applications they've worked with here and here.

After all of the designing and testing has been complete, the rewards will be sent and all of the designs and code will be uploaded to the internet for anyone to use and build on.

Once the adult hand is finished I plan to make these hands accessible to children. As a child grows they need a new hand every one or two years which can cost up to £1m over the child's lifetime. This makes it virtually impossible to do. With 3D printing, you can just replace the parts you need to each year and make the hand larger each time. The cost would be perhaps just a couple of hundred pounds each year. Here's a video to show how this might be done:

£39000 sounds like a lot of money, but that sum is less than the cost of one hand from the leading manufacturer of robotic prosthetic hands. With the Open Hand Project, for less than the price of one hand, we can get hands to thousands of people all over the world.

The money raised will go towards funding the project for an entire year. This will include prototyping PCB designs, purchasing materials for additional prototypes of the hand and equipment for assembling the electronics. Since I'll be working full time on this, some of it will also go towards my living expenses for the year. In the interest of transparency, here's a pie chart showing exactly how I plan to use the money. Since starting the campaign:


At this reward level there are no material rewards, you're donating to the cause and you will be helping a lot of people. You also get to be part of the testing process for the Dextrus hand. Name any household object and I'll record footage of the Dextrus hand picking it up or grabbing it. I'll compile them all into one video which will be released online, with your name and the name of your object superimposed on each clip. As well as showing off what it can do and providing some laughs, this should serve as a great testing bed for all the unusual things the wearer may require the Dextrus hand to do.

You'll receive a survey after the campaign is over asking for the name of your household item.

I reserve the right to omit inappropriate suggestions, and if I don't have the household object, I'll do my best to find something as close as possible to your request!

Touchscreen Gloves

The Open Hand Project touchscreen gloves come in black with the OHP logo embroidered on the back of the right hand. They work perfectly with capacitive touchscreens using a conductive material in the fingertips which means they'll work with all touchscreen phones and tablets. No more using your phone with your nose in the winter!

Even if you don't have a touchscreen phone, these will be ideal for using touchscreen kioskes like the one's you get at the train station!

iPhone Cover

The Open Hand Project iPhone cover is compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S. It's 3D printed and the phone clicks snugly into it. You'll be able to select your colour at the end of the campaign. It will be available in Blue, Black and White. Other colours may be available too.

T Shirt

The Open Hand Project T-shirt comes with the logo printed proudly on the front. It's a high-quality, 100% cotton, Fruit of the Loom lightweight T-Shirt and comes in a variety of colours and sizes. Sizes XS, S, M, L and XL will be available for women and S, M, L, XL, XXL for men. Colours are listed below, you'll be asked which size and colour you would like at the end of the campaign.

Open Hand Project Goodybag

A host of exclusive Open Hand Project items, here's your chance to have your name 3D printed into a key chain/fridge magnet!

- Touchscreen gloves

- 3D Printed Open Hand Project key chain/fridge magnet personalized with name (or other text)

- 3D Printed Robot Hand Egg Cup

- Engineering Essentials from National Instruments (including the highly sort after NI double ended screwdriver)

3D Designer

I will model anything you like in the open source, 3D modelling software Blender, 3D print it and send it to your door. Whether it's a prototype for an idea you have or a miniature version of yourself, anything is possible with 3D printing! Please get in touch with me before choosing this perk by sending a private comment here on the campaign. We can then talk through your chosen model to make sure it's possible before you pledge. I have many hours of experience in Blender and I'm sure we can make almost anything work!


This is the standard version of the Dextrus hand. It's aimed at hobbyists and people who want to attach it to things and then control it from a computer or from some custom electronics. It has all 6 degrees of freedom (one per finger and two for the thumb), plastidipped grippy fingers and open source, Arduino based control interface software. It does not come with a power supply, batteries, charger or EMG control board.

When choosing this perk you'll be asked which colour you want and which hand you want, left or right.

Dextrus EMG

This is the prosthetic version of the Dextrus hand. It's aimed at amputees that want another attachment for their existing prosthesis. It connects using the standard Otto Bock connector but if your prosthesis is manufactured by someone else then please get in touch and I'm sure we can connect it. It's exactly the same as the standard Dextrus but comes with a battery pack, battery charger, 100 electrodes, cables and an EMG control board.

The battery pack can be conveniently connected to either the users belt, or strapped to their prosthesis, depending on which is easier. Wires then connect to the hand to provide the power. When choosing this perk you'll be asked which colour you want and which hand you want, left or right.

Dextrus Research

This is the research version of the Dextrus hand. It's aimed at Universities and Research Institutions. It has all of the same features of the standard Dextrus hand but with a number of enhancements:

- Ball bearings in the joints

- Denser plastic

- Upgraded servo motor

- Free-standing Dock

- Power Supply

- Full collection of spare parts

- USB stick containing digital designs and NI LabVIEW driver software

- Extended, 90 Day trial of NI LabVIEW Graphical System Design software

When choosing this perk you'll be asked which colour you want and which hand you want, left or right.

Me For a Day

This perk is mainly aimed at companies that would like me to speak at one of their events while also donating to a fantastic humanitarian project. I envisage giving a speech on-stage including a demonstration of the hand. I'm a practised speaker and have delivered countless presentations to small audiences and even spoken on stage at the NIDays Graphical System Design conference to hundreds of guests. 

If you're just an extremely generous backer then perhaps you want me to help you out with something else, maybe you're a hobbyist who would like me to come and work on your robot with you for a day!

Either way I'm sure it can be arranged, please get in touch with me through indiegogo before selecting this perk and we can make arrangements.

I'll also bring along some free gifts from National Instruments which you can give to your colleagues or put in your lab or garage.


Become the official sponsor of the Open Hand Project. This will be a game changer for your company and for your brand awareness. When successful, the Open Hand Project is going to have broad reaching, international media exposure. It will have revolutionized the field of prosthetics and everyone's going to hear about it. Imagine having your brand associated with that! There have already been articles published in at least 8 different languages across the globe, with the most exposure coming in the UK and the USA.

What's more, you will gain particular traction in the fields of 3D Printing, Prosthetics, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Health, Technology, Robotics, Bionics and Science.

As part of this perk you'll also get up to 5 appearances from me over the course of the next year, I'll be available for talks, meetings and events but may require some expenses if you're outside of the UK.

Think about the corporate responsibility you'll be demonstrating by helping a cause like this that can help so many people.

Please feel free to get in touch if you would like more information. 

If you've already donated to the Open Hand Project and are looking for more ways to help, why not take part in our referral competition? It's very simple and easy to get involved with. Here's how it works:

1. Log in

Log in to the indiegogo account that you used to make your donation.

2. Share

You'll have a personalized link that you can use to share the campaign, copy and paste this link and share it around your network. You can use social media, e-mail and maybe even your website to get the word out using the links below the video, they will all contain your personalized link.

3. Track Progress

If someone clicks on your link, and then donates, you can track it on your profile. I can see who's referred the most people and who's created the largest amount in donations from their referrals. I'll update every few days with the progress. 

4. Win Prizes

Prizes will be sent out at the end of the successful campaign. If it's unsuccessful, I can't afford to give out these prizes, but that won't happen!

- Most Funders Referred: £200 CASH PRIZE.

- Runner up: One OHP T-shirt and one pair of gloves.

- Highest Amount in Contributions Referred: £200 CASH PRIZE.

- Runner up: One OHP T-shirt and one pair of gloves.

- Most Number of People Referred: £200 CASH PRIZE.

- Runner up: One OHP T-shirt and one pair of gloves.

If you had already pledged for the T-shirt or gloves, then you've either got a cool Christmas present for a friend, or, let me know and we can sort something else out. 

Have some fun with it and use this as an opportunity to help a great cause and win a bit of cash, if you haven't donated already, you only have to donate £1($1) to enter!

Any more questions? Get in touch:

- E-Mail:

- Facebook:

- Twitter:

Find This Campaign On
raised by 1,085 people in 1 month
112% funded
No time left
£39,000 GBP goal
Fixed Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on October 14, 2013
Select a Perk
  • £5GBP

    You're donating to a fantastic cause and your donation will be hugely appreciated. There are no material rewards at this pledge level, instead you get to be a part of the testing process! Choose any household object and I'll record video footage of the hand grabbing it. After the campaign I'll upload a video cut with all the footage and names of backers.

    155 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013

    iPhone Cover

    Open Hand Project iPhone cover. Compatible with iPhone 4 and 4S or iPhone 5. You'll be asked which you have at the end of the campaign. Protect your phone in a modern and stylish way with this 3D printed goody!

    50 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • £15GBP
    Touchscreen Gloves

    No more using your phone with your nose in the winter! Support us in style with the Open Hand Project Touchscreen gloves. These will keep you warm even when using touchscreens - and you'll look awesome.

    253 out of 5000 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • £25GBP
    Open Hand Project T-Shirt

    This perk is for a Fruit of the Loom, 100% cotton T-Shirt in a colour of your choice. It comes with the beautiful Open Hand Project logo printed on the front to show that you're an awesome person, supporting a great cause!

    96 out of 5000 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013

    Open Hand Project Goodybag

    Touchscreen Gloves, Indiegogo backer exclusive 3D printed, personalised key fob/fridge magnet, a 3D Printed robot hand egg cup and a hand full of "Engineering Essentials" donated by National Instruments.

    50 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013

    OHP Super Goodybag

    You're a wonderful person for making such a generous donation! This perk contains everything in the Open Hand Project Goodybag, but with the addition of the stylish OHP T-Shirt.

    20 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013

    3D Designer

    I will model anything you like in CAD software, 3D print it and send it to you. Whether it's a prototype for an idea you have or a miniature version of yourself, anything is possible with 3D printing! Please get in touch with me before choosing this perk.

    5 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • £460GBP

    The Dextrus hand in all its glory. This is the standard version of the hand, it comes ready to use however you please. Ideal for hobbyists, makers and roboticists this is the perfect addition to your next robotics project.

    6 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2014
  • £650GBP
    ***EARLY BACKER*** Dextrus EMG

    Exactly the same as the £700 pledge, but get in quickly and save £50!

    4 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • £700GBP
    Dextrus EMG

    This is the prosthetic version of the Dextrus. It comes with battery pack, charger, EMG board and 100 Electrodes. Connect this to your prosthetic arm.

    0 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: May 2014
  • £750GBP
    Dextrus Research

    This version of the Dextrus hand is perfect for Universities and research institutions. It's made with a denser plastic and features steel ball bearings for more robust joints, bolts and screws for easier repairs/alterations. It comes with plug-in power pack, spare parts, a dock and a free gift from National Instruments.

    5 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • £1,000GBP
    Me for a day

    At this pledge level you get a full day to absorb my infectious charm. I'll come along to an event and do a talk and demonstration or perhaps you have something else in mind, please get in touch before selecting this perk. Also, you'll get a load of FREE GIFTS from National Instruments!

    1 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013


    Become THE OFFICIAL SPONSOR of the Open Hand Project. Details in the description.

    1 out of 1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2013
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