Virtual Reality Prosthetics: Body and Mind exhibition at Sheffield Winter Gardens 8-10 August 2017

The Virtual Reality Prosthetics: Body and Mind exhibition (funded by a Wellcome Trust Award) looks at the current technological, social and ethical contexts of upper limb prosthetics. It was co-developed by a multidisciplinary group from Sheffield Hallam University and young people from Sheffield University Technology College.

The exhibition has its origins in a multidisciplinary project that used virtual reality technology that C3RI’s Ivan Phelan developed, as a more comfortable way for people with robotic upper limb prosthetics to learn to use their prosthetic arms.

The exhibition at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London 16-17 July 2017 as part of the Paralympics, saw over 750 visitors. The exhibition will also be at Sheffield Winter Gardens 8-10 August 2017, concurrent with Sheffield’s hosting of the Special Olympics.

Exhibits include prosthetic arms from different periods; three people describing their experiences of using upper limb prosthetics; joint physiology; and anatomical models of the arm and brain.

Digital interactive exhibits include:

  • Arm scanner: Users place their hand inside a scanner beneath a transparent screen. Sensors map the user’s own hand and the layers of bone, nerves and muscles in the arm are projected onto the screen exactly over the user’s own hand. As users move and their hand and bend their fingers, the projection continues to map the movement into the projection, giving the user the feeling that they are looking at the anatomy of their own hand and arm.
  • Virtual reality prosthetic training experience: Immersive, VR set-up with headset using a slightly adapted version of the VR environment that was developed to train new users of robotic arm prosthetics. Almost 100 adults and children tried out the VR environment to great delight, speaking of how ‘cool’ it was, or how much fun it was to smash plates in the virtual kitchen.