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CAMEO is a universal gripping aid based on the operating principle of a chameleon tongue, thereby enabling gripping tasks on objects of different sizes and shapes despite physical restrictions.

What it does

People of all ages may be temporarily or permanently affected by a gripping restriction. Due to it's ease of use, CAMEO makes it possible to autonomously and playfully master everyday gripping tasks and train the diseased hand at the same time.

Your inspiration

The gripping function is essential for humans. Our hands are a tool for the mind, allowing interaction with our environment. However, a personal finger injury led to the finding that a large group of affected persons remains unnoticed by the general public. Especially those with a chronic disease are obliged to use aids that are difficult to handle and require the help of others. Enthusiasm for biomimetics, my own health care background and the cooperation with experts in the field of occupational therapy led to a universal solution, both supporting the natural hand position and allowing low-fatigue handling.

How it works

CAMEO consists of two main parts: A conical gripping part made of silicone and a handle, both interconnected by a common ground plate. The gripping part is filled with a liquid and has a retractable, slightly inwardly curved tip surface. By simply pushing the gripping part onto an object to be picked up or by actuating the handle, the tip surface is pulled further inwards, thereby lifting and force-fitting the object via the slightly adhesive silicone surface. For the handle, two possible designs were implemented: Representing the actual concept, the rubber ball ergonomically fits for an average adult hand size. An inner pneumatic cylinder is fluid-tight connected via the piston rod to the gripping part tip. Mainly for testing purposes, a purely mechanical solution was created, having a piston that can be actuated via a ring like a syringe. It might be used in areas where the gripping object or the fingers should be protected from direct contact.

Design process

After coming up with the idea of "mounting a chameleon tongue on a flexible ball" and having an innovative kind of pipette as a gripping aid, the basic principle had to be understood. The translation was initially based on a simple experiment with a water-filled plastic bag with a string. Handier versions were then created with a balloon, wherefore air, particles (glass beads, wood balls) and liquids (water, silicone oil) were tested as fill materials. Thereby water appeared to be most suitable. For the pneumatic mechanism experiments with a construction-kit were carried out. In addition to researching and analyzing existing solutions, expert interviews (occupational therapy and mechanics) have always proved valuable and accompanied my work throughout the attempt of creating a coherent concept for the given problem. Two functional prototypes were independently created using prototyping methods. Up to this maturity, the work on CAMEO took one year.

How it is different

In contrast to most common gripping aids, CAMEO supports a variety of gripping tasks, independently of the sizes and shapes of the objects handled. The use of CAMEO is easy to be understood and allows the utilization irrespective of age and even despite cognitive limitations. The ball-shaped handle design compensates for a missing finger grip or fist closure and/or a sensory disorder, thereby accounting for the most common gripping restrictions. The unique mechanical design leads to a compact and lightweight structure, whereas the modular configuration allows for easy customization of handle types and sizes. So the diverse groups affected by chronic gripping restrictions - from children with paralysis to elderly people with arthrosis - can be supplied. Moreover, different possible color schemes emphasize the autonomy of the end-user.

Future plans

After discussions with occupational therapists, the need for a product like CAMEO was expressed at an early stage of the project. Therefore, the implementation in a real product was in focus right from the beginning. The construction of CAMEO mainly bases upon the usage of standard components and rapid prototyping processes to enable cost-effective series production. The next step is testing with the target group. However, in order to increase the product lifetime, the pneumatic cylinder system has to be elaborated prior to that.


CAMEO was chosen for "project funding 2018" by the Austrian Student Union (ÖH), cultural department Linz

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