• Project Adaptool

    Adaptool is a student conceptual design project that aims to help arm amputees use tools more easily and efficiently so that they can lead better lives and have higher employability. We designed this project to participate in Microsoft Design Expo 2015, responding to this year's theme: design for the disabled.

  • Background

    In our research we found that amputation is a bigger problem than we had originally imagined. With a focus on China, we collected data from the China Disabled People's Federation and found that there are 24.1 million people in China that suffer from limb loss. Further, disabled people in China have disproportionately low employment rates at only 27%, which is a huge problem. Arm amputations have an even greater impact on amputees in terms of their careers because many jobs require extensive usage of tools.

    China Amputee Population and Unemployment Rate

    A large population with limb loss and a very low employment rate have combined to create a huge problem.
  • Inspiration

    The conventional design idea that prosthetic hands should always resemble human hands may not be the best idea.

    Conventional Design Idea

    First a prosthetic hand then the tool

    Adaptool Design Idea

    Skip The Grip
    We are asking: if the purpose of having a hand is often to operate tools, why not attach tools directly to the prosthetic and just skip the grip?
  • Structure of Adaptool

    Illustrated in both 3-D and 2-D.

    Overall Design

    Pictured: Labelled 2D and 3D models.
    Keep reading for more technical details of Adaptool design.

    Wearing Adaptool

    Fast and easy
    Attach your arm to one side and the tools to the other.

    Tool Socket

    connecting to tools

    Tool Socket

    All in a button's click
    First put the handle of the tool into the tool socket, then click the button and the tool will be instantly fixed.

    Tool Socket

    Inside the socket we designed this structure to secure tools: a band forming a ring, with one end connected to a motor. With a click of the button, the motor runs and pulls the band, making the ring smaller, fastening the tool. When you click the button again, the motor will run in the opposite direction and the tool will be released.


    Multiple control methods are provided
    More complicated jobs require more complex tools, so Adaptool also includes a touch screen for precise configuration and myoelectric sensors. 


    Myoelectric sensors pick up the electrical signals your muscles give off when you contract them. Adaptool allows specific contractions to be mapped to actions of the tool being used.


    comfort for your arm
    Adaptool makes use of the traditional prosthetic sleeve, but with the added advantage of a memory foam lining for extra comfort. A supporting band will also be provided for heavier tools to help relieve weight. 
  • Feedback

    See what amputees think about our project.

    A conversation with Mr. Ku.

    Near the end of our research we were lucky to have the chance to talk with an amputee named Mr. Ku, who is also an officer of the China Disabled Persons Federation. In the interview, Mr. Ku gave us a lot of insights on amputee's daily life and the current situation for Chinese amputees.

    Conventional prosthetic hands are not always useful.

    When we asked Mr. Ku why he didn't use a prosthetic hand, we were told that Mr. Ku "threw away" his conventional prosthetic hands because he felt they weren't always effective or reliable.

    For tool use, stabilization is key.

    Mr. Ku lost both arms in an accident. Now he uses a wristband to fix tools such as combs, pencils and spades to work with them. His way is very creative, but he also points out it is neither stable nor efficient. Mr. Ku told us that it would be best if he had a device that can fix the tool to his arm so that he can work easier. We also noticed that Mr. Ku needs to use both arms to operate most tools. In those cases, Adaptool ensures that just one arm is enough, essentially freeing up one limb for the amputee.
  • Team

    People behind Adaptool

    Kadallah Burrowes

    Kadallah is an Interactive Media Arts student interested in interactive design, the arts, and the intersection of the two.

    Ellina Nurmukhametova

    Ellian is an Interactive Media Arts student at NYU Shanghai who is interested in inclusive design and technology.

    Fred Wu

    Fred Wu is a student from the Interactive Media Arts program at NYU Shanghai. He has a passion for technology and the arts and his life goal is to combine the best of both worlds. 

    Watcher Wang

    Watcher is a computer science student at NYU Shanghai who's very interested in artificial intelligence.
  • Our Professor 

    Clay Shirky

    Professor at NYU
    Clay Shirky is associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University (having previously been distinguished writer in residence) and associate arts professor in the interactive telecommunications program. He is also a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a 2010 Edward R. Murrow Visiting Lecturer at Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy.
    Professor Clay Shirky has supervised the whole design process of Adaptool and gave us many valuable suggestions, contributing greatly to its refinement.
  • Contact Us!

    Interested in this conceptual design? Send us an email at adaptool@sina.com or leave a message here! :D