User Experience - Product Design 2016

The patent for the current form of prosthetic arm has been unchanged since the early 1900’s. Current prosthetic arms try to replicate what a regular arm looks like, instead of letting the amputee embrace their prosthetics potential.

Amputee’s do not feel emotionally connected to their limbs, only physically attached.

By creating a prosthetic arm where the amputee can easily design their own limb. CANVAS provides the framework for the amputees to fully express themselves. Two basic panels that take their form from the amputees existing limb are the blank canvases for the amputee to paint their picture.


Through a brainstorming process, I developed this service map to detail the various touchpoints throughout the CANVAS service. It details the user journey from first time they visit the website, designing their new prosthetic, through to picking it up from the clinic. It also enables us to see the lower level actions that must be completed in order for the service to function wholly.


The development work for CANVAS was two-fold. Firstly the prosthetic framework itself needed ideation and iteration. I quickly settled on the idea of having a lightweight central 'body' upon which there would be panels that the amputee could customise. The benefits of this would be creating a great balance between too much creative freedom for the amputee and just enough to truly feel customisable. Secondly, I sketched basic wireframes to explore how the user would build their customised arm.


The key theme I wanted to portray with canvas was that indeed the service provides a blank canvas. For this reason the logo mark and colours used throughout are mainly monochromatic. The logo itself is modernist and draws upon an artistic theme. By mirroring the 'V' and turning it into the 'N' it creates a symmetry and balance to the logo. This links nicely to the symmetry that Canvas will return to an amputee's body.


The website is integral to allowing amputees to ‘design’ their own limb. It functions similar to NikeID and other customisation services by using a combination of prestyled designs. However the user can also create their own designs using artwork they have created or found online.

From here users can share their designs with other users or submit them and have them reviewed by their nearest prosthetist who supplies CANVAS limbs.


The main feature is the Canvas Builder web application. From here the user is presented with a visual representation of the front or back panel in a variety of colours and a range of prestyled elements. The user is free to customise their panel using any of the predetermined combinations. Alternatively, they can add their own design elements by uploading them in an appropriate format and adding them to the panel. From here they can edit their elements simply by scaling, rotating and flipping them.


An important part of the website is the Gallery. Here we can see selections of customised CANVAS arms that amputees have built. This can be used for inspiration to design your own, but perhaps more importantly it helps to convey a sense of community. A community where the amputees can not only talk about their disabilities but also can show off their amazing designs. It's about showing the opportunities more than disabilities.

Visit inVision


To complete the full circle there has to be a modular 3D framework for the user's designs to be implemented upon. The CANVAS limb consists of an inner carbon fibre core, two panels (formed using the latest 3D scanning technology), a wrist and elbow joint, carbon fibre socket and integrated use of the open source Flexy-Hand. The limb is designed to work with current 'wired' technology used in limbs aswell as future-proofed to function with 'myoelectric hands' that used sensors to move the limb.


A 3D scan is taken of the existing limb. If the user is a bilateral amputee we select an arm shape and size based on your current body build. Using image based scanning the camera will take multiple photo’s of the arm whilst rotating around the amputee and can produce a very accurate 3D model of the arm. This is then mirrored and tweaked by a 3D artist to create the shape of the prosthetic arm. The panels are connected simply by a screw joint that allows multiple pairs of interchangeable designs.


Designed similarly to all current prosthetic wrist joints it allows rotation of the hand. This also means that it can be adapted to fit any of the current terminal devices(aka hands) and hopefully in future will fit myoelectric hands. The current hand being used in conjunction with the CANVAS arm is the ‘Flexy Hand’ which is part of an open source prosthetics movement. This is the sort of thing that CANVAS is hoping to encourage and aid the development of.