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How Robotics Can Help With Disability

The first-hand testimony of an innovative technological project aimed at helping people with physical disabilities. In complete harmony with the enhancement of diversity and the promotion of inclusion that is dear to everyone today, the combination of competence and technological innovation is the winning key to finally being able to talk about inclusion effectively. Thanks to new technologies, the possibility of simplifying the lives of disabled and non-disabled people can support the path of autonomy and growth of people, for example, by creating brilliant and inclusive cities.

There is a need to possess and make accessible more and more technological tools capable of facing the power of ability. With the term skill, we indicate a world designed and built without considering people who may have motor, physical, mental or other difficulties. From this follows a significant number of cultural, architectural and bureaucratic barriers that voluntarily or involuntarily create situations of marginalization by hindering authentic equal opportunities.

From Search To Device

Let me introduce myself: I am Tiziana, and I met Francesca and Fanny at the national assembly of “Reach”, the association I belong to. Francesca and Fanny work, or rather I should say they represent, the essence of Existo Srl, a startup that is part of the E-Novia SpA group. Existo Srl, in the field of health-tech, offers innovative solutions for the health and well-being of people with temporary or permanent disabilities and frailties. The Existo device was born from a collaboration between ENovia and the SIRS Lab.

The Importance Of Associations

The association “Reach” since 1986 supports people with disabilities in the limbs and their families. Families with similar situations experience moments of discussion, listening and sharing like those we spent precisely during the national assembly. “Reaching” also concretely supports families so much so that it is in direct contact with the significant pediatric hospitals and orthopedic workshops of excellence and is, therefore, able to direct people to those who have the best medical and health skills. 

During the assembly, we had the opportunity to listen to doctors, geneticists, physiotherapists, coaches, and athletes. Furthermore, we were able to see the state of the art of autonomy support tools for people with limb differences., not only aesthetic but also functional prostheses and other tools and support devices for sport, training and all activities of daily life. And it is precisely in this context that I tried Existo, which in reality is not a prosthesis.

Existo, The Robotic Sixth Finger 

Existo can be considered a sixth finger, a prosthetic finger able to help people in different activities, in direct grips, for example, to hold objects such as a bag or a cup. It can help open and close a bottle, for example, in supporting an object during an activity such as a bottle, a waterer, or a cloth. It can support various daily activities, allowing the user to define their gripping strategies customized to their abilities or interests.

Use is via voice command: the device synchronizes with your smartphone via the App to allow Existo to recognize the language. The battery lasts about 4 hours, and the charging time is under 2 hours. The App can allow the viewing and sharing of tutorials to involve more users in the various functions and uses of the device, and, in the future, it can be applied to telemedicine and digital therapy to promote neuro-rehabilitation of the upper limb.

The idea is to create a community of users, experts, doctors and therapists who can interact remotely and at any time. Existo is a wearable gripping device, elementary to use but at the same time beneficial, with voice commands designed to compensate for missing hand functions or buttons on the device, personalizing your user experience. Using your voice with a few simple commands, Existo follows people in their daily activities. 


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