Indian startup Social Hardware today unveiled their modular assistive device connector, named the Avocado Wrist Connector for its resemblance to the fruit. Autodesk helped the team to apply generative design to the connector, focusing on minimizing weight while ensuring strength and durability – a problem often faced with a typical single prosthetic hand and socket device.
The connector was launched at Autodesk’s first Design Night in India, the opening event of Hyderabad Design Week. Centred on the theme of Design and AI, the event showcased new examples of design and technology, featuring innovations in generative design, including the wheel of Volkswagen’s iconic electric bus, Under Armour’s first 3D-printed performance trainer and General Motors’ improved seat belt bracket.
The Avocado Wrist Connector offers users greater control and mobility as it allows them to quickly switch between tools essential to agricultural or construction work, such as a spade or a rake. In India, the highest rate of amputation occurs in low-income, rural areas – home to more than two-thirds of the country’s population – as a result of road, railway, and agricultural accidents. These injuries often prevent amputees from returning to work, and most assistive devices are too expensive, or too heavy and fragile for demanding field work.
A key benefit of generative design, a technology exclusively available in Autodesk Fusion 360, is the ability to make lighter-weight parts, minimizing mass and material use while maintaining high performance standards and respecting engineering constraints. Generative design enabled the Social Hardware team to achieve a weight reduction for the connector from 300g to just 96g, a result that would have taken months through traditional design methods, but instead took less than a week.
“The development of assistive devices includes many rounds of ideation and a lot of prototyping and testing for engineering design. Fusion 360 has made it incredibly easy for us to prepare designs for rapid prototyping, speeding up the process of development and getting the connector ready to meet the needs of amputees across the country.” said Abhit Kumar, Co-Founder, Social Hardware.
Besides serving as a tool for making lighter, stronger parts, generative design technology also creates an opportunity for faster workflows that allow for better-informed design decisions. Kumar continued, “Fusion 360’s agile working environment has also enabled us to efficiently share knowledge and work more collaboratively – vital for our team as we have contributors from different parts of the world. Without this flexibility, development and production time would have taken exponentially longer, and ultimately drive up the cost of the connector.”
Today, generative design is being adopted by the largest companies in automotive, aerospace, architecture and construction, industrial machinery and consumer goods. Using AI and the computing power of the cloud, generative design enables designers and engineers to create thousands of design options by simply defining their design problem through parameters such as materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints. The software explores the possible permutations of a solution, quickly generating design alternatives so engineers can explore and choose from more manufacturing-ready design options, far more rapidly than was ever conceivable before.
“The Avocado Wrist Connector has the potential to improve the lives of over half a million upper limb amputees in India, providing equal opportunity to people with disabilities,” said Haresh Khoobchandani, Vice President of Asia Pacific at Autodesk. “With its ability to explore options for reducing product weight through part consolidation and dramatically speed up the product development process, generative design is the future of manufacturing. We are honoured to support Social Hardware’s pioneering journey to use it to create sustainable solutions for the healthcare industry and look forward to the next milestone.”
While the Avocado Wrist Connector is currently in the testing stage, Social Hardware is making it available as part of a STEM education kit to hobbyists, students, and education institutions to gather more feedback. The team has also partnered with rehabilitation centres across the country, including the Association of People with Disability, Karnataka and Nevedac Prosthetic Centre, Punjab to make their assistive devices available to users free of charge.