Finalists at the Step-Up Technology Innovation
Competition in Johannesburg.

A prosthetic arm developed by Mechanical Engineering masters student, Mr Drew van der Riet, earned him joint 1st place in the Health and Biotechnology section of the Step-Up Technology Innovation competition at the Microsoft offices in Johannesburg.

Under the supervision of Dr Riaan Stopforth, van der Riet submitted his project in the Ideas in Development category.

Van der Riet identified three key features in the advanced prosthetics field which can be improved on: sensory feedback, advanced control and reduced cost.  He developed the proof of concept work during his masters research project with Stopforth which entailed the design of a sensory feedback system which sends information to the amputee.

The amputee controls the prosthetic arm by giving the system commands to control the hand. The number of grip-types available to the amputee is increased greatly through the design of the new control system.

‘The competition gave me excellent experience to the world of tech-entrepreneurship and exposure and networking opportunities with some of the up-and-coming tech-entrepreneurs in South Africa. My prize includes a bundle of business support that will hopefully help me start an advanced prosthetics company in South Africa soon,’ said van der Riet.

The competition is a platform for people to showcase any device, small or large, which will contribute to the improvement of life and mankind.