Robotic arm made in Kenya could change the lives of disabled people

Written on 01/26/2021
Ciarán Mather

An impressive robotic arm invented by two scientists from Kenya is hoped to help improve the living standards of the nation's disabled population. 

The invention, which was created by two men named David Gathu and Moses Kinyua, is powered by the thoughts of its subject, and bears a striking resemblance to something out of science-fiction films such as Iron Man or Elysium.

According to Euronews, who originally broke the story, the two creators use a special 'NeuroNode' headset to detect mental stimuli.

Once this stimulus is detected, a current is then sent into the robot's circuitry, which gives the arm its mobility - similar to how our own nervous system in our spines send messages to our limbs.

The arm has several component materials including recycled metal and wood, and can move both vertically and horizontally.

The invention could find itself in high demand, especially given how it is estimated that around approximately 10 per cent of Kenya's population, which is around 50 million, are disabled.

Additionally, Legs4Africa, an organisation that helps those who have lost limbs, could be a potential top client.

In the context of Ireland, there are estimated to be around 4,000 amputees in the Republic, according to website founder Michael McWilliam.

However, given that this estimate was made in 2012, the figure is likely to have increased.

A number of successful and innovative inventions have originated from Kenya in recent years.

Some of these include special gloves that convert sign language into speech and a special chip placed within a shoe sole that charges itself up while you walk.

In addition, the highly-durable fabric known as kikoy originated from Kenya and can be applied to clothes, decorations, towels and scales.

If the country's STEM workforce keeps this progress up, it could well become a technology hub in the near future: not just for Africa, but for the whole world.