Extia is an engineering consultancy that was founded in 2007. The company has over one thousand employees, headquarters in Paris, and offices throughout France and Europe, including Belgium, Switzerland, and Romania.
Extia setup an internal development team, run by Arnaud Laurent, known as the “Mécénat” (or “Sponsorship”). The Mécénat was formed to collaborate with and provide support to non-profit organisations, including e-Nable France and the Red Cross. The idea was to utilise the expertise and experience of Extia’s engineering consultants to help organisations all over France for the benefit of French society.
Arnaud saw the exiii HACKberry project for the first time on Wevolver’s Instagram in November 2017 and decided to reach out to Pôle Innovation—another internal team that has been developing robotic systems in Extia’s headquarters and who previously worked with SoftBank robotics—and e-Nable France to coordinate improvements to the project.
By December, the group had already gathered all of the required electronic components and 3D printed parts, they just needed to assemble a functional HACKberry prosthetic hand.
“The HACKberry hand is a complex project, it has many components and in order to have a working product, all the subsystems must interact seamlessly,” explained Pablo Vega from the Pôle Innovation team. “We had to change our PCB dimensions a couple of times until we got everything working together.”
Another challenge the group faced was how to prepare their first end user (a teenage amputee named Ana) to interact with the device. After installing a myo sensor and then an IR sensor, as advised by the Hackberry forum users, Arnaud needed to find out if Ana would be able to effectively activate the sensors to control the hand or if further changes and calibration would be required. By the end of February 2018, Arnaud and the team were ready to visit Ana in Tours (a city 250 km away from Paris) to test the first fully functional version of their Hackberry hand. Impressively, Ana worked out how to accurately activate the IR sensors in less than 15 minutes.
Currently, the group is working on reducing the size of the HACKberry to fit Ana more comfortably. They are also adding new functionalities to the Arduino code and improving the battery system. Hopefully, by the end of April, they will have a new version ready to share both with Ana and the rest of the Wevolver community.
You can find out more about Extia here.