Lianna with Guided Hands™
Guided Hands™: How it Works
Guided Hands™: How it Works
Elissa, inspiration behind Guided Hands™
Bella, inspiration behind ImaginAble Solutions
Guided Hands™ being tested in healthcare facilities across North America
What it does
Guided Hands™ is a mechanical assistive device that enables anyone living with limited hand mobility to write, paint, draw and use a touch-screen device. The innovation helps to regain their confidence, independence, self-expression and cognitive skills.
My innovation journey began in 2018 when I met Elissa, a talented painter living with Cerebral Palsy. As her condition progressed she experienced uncontrollable curling of her fingers making holding and using a paintbrush impossible. Elissa had lost her confidence, passion and creativity. She told her story to my engineering design class where I was instantly inspired to create the first prototype of Guided Hands™ to help Elissa paint again! Elissa is amongst millions of people with a medical condition/injury experiencing limited hand mobility. I knew I had to seize the opportunity to innovate towards making an impact in the lives of others.
How it works
Inspired by the mechanics of a 3D printer, Guided Hands™ uses a simple sliding system composed of linear shafts and ball bearings. The unique system promotes controlled and guided hand movements in all directions (horizontal, vertical and swivel hand motions), as the user holds a handpiece, choosing three designs, based on their level of hand impairment. The handpiece is connected to an arm attachment that holds various writing utensils (paintbrush, pen, marker, stylus, etc) thus decreasing struggle, pain, and fatigue as reported by users. Guided Hands™ is designed to use the patient’s gross motor skills in their shoulder to perform activities instead of their poor fine motor skills in the hand. The technology has been developed alongside 150 patients and health professionals including occupational therapists and neurologists across Canada and the US. Guided Hands™ is currently patent pending in Canada and the US where I own 100% of the intellectual property.
Guided Hands™ was created using the design thinking process. Empathizing and identifying Elissa’s passion yet difficulty painting were the first two steps. Ideation was the third step in which the mechanics of a 3D printer inspired the device’s various degrees of freedom. Next was prototyping. The first prototype was made out of pipe cleaners, straws and a sponge. The last step of the process was testing. Immediately Elissa used the prototype and her feedback inspired multiple iterations until she was able to paint again. I was inspired to continue my project. I spent my following summer, redesigning, manufacturing and inventing Guided Hands™. I tested with patients at local healthcare facilities living with various neurological disorders where I gathered incredible feedback. During my field testing I met Bella, a child living with Cerebral Palsy. As soon as she painted, the widest smile spread across her face. She used a pencil to write and then played a game on her iPad. She said “Mom, I want one.” Her mother turned to me and asked, “How much is it?” At that point, the thought of selling Guided Hands™ had never crossed my mind. Suddenly, I knew I had to bring this product to the world and help others like Bella. A week later, I incorporated my company, ImaginAble Solutions.
How it is different
Guided Hands™ is a simple mechanical device that is designed to enable people with disabilities to perform daily activities and also improve their quality of life. Our competitive advantage is functionality. Many of our competitors are hand held devices that can hold a writing utensil but does promote controlled and guided hand movements. Products focused on removing tremors such as wearable gloves still rely on the patient to hold the writing utensil which is often too difficult. Lastly, none of our competitors accommodate for the user’s varying levels of hand impairment. Guided Hands™ is the most simple, supportive and accommodating product that allows the patient to use a writing utensil with precision, ease and comfort. Our technology is the only product that offers multiple ambidextrous handpieces and uses a unique sliding system with a platform to glide and support the hand during an activity. The mechanics of Guided Hands™ are patent pending.
Through my school project, I have transformed my passion in engineering into a profession. Over the past 2 years, Guided Hands™ has become an international award-winning product and we have already sold multiple prototypes. However, our innovation journey with Guided Hands™ is not finished. We have launched healthcare pilots across North America to test with more patients such as Vancouver Coastal Health, Easterseals and more! My vision is to bring Guided Hands™ to the market and use my background in biomedical and mechanical engineering to innovate towards a new product that has social impact!
Global Innovation Award – EO Global Student Entrepreneur Awards Most Innovative Award – U21 RISE Global Competition 1st Place - Innovative Design for Accessibility Student Competition