Red Dot Award: Design Concept

Robotic Prosthetic Knee nominated for Red Dot: Luminary

Robotic Prosthetic Knee nominated for top accolade, the Red Dot: Luminary 2020, in the Red Dot Award: Design Concept

The “Robotic Prosthetic Knee” from the Bionics category, designed by BionicM from Japan, has been nominated for the highest achievement in the Red Dot Award: Design Concept 2020, the Red Dot: Luminary. The top accolade serves as an inspiration to aspire towards. The design concept is an innovative motor-powered prosthetic knee. It is designed for above-knee amputees and helps to restore their physical functions. Users can conduct daily activities with reduced physical pain. Red Dot talked to the CEO of BionicM, Dr. Sun Xiaojun.

Please tell us about BionicM and the developments of the Robotic Prosthetic Knee.
We are a startup company from Tokyo University, aiming to power mobility for all the people by fusing robotic technology and human body. Currently, we are focused on designing a robotic prosthesis knee joint for above-knee amputees to improve their mobility. The reason why we are building a robotic prosthetics knee joint is that I am a prosthesis user. I got my right leg amputated when I was nine years old. It was difficult for me to afford a prosthesis, so I walked with a crutch for 15 years. I got my right leg's first prosthesis when I came back to Japan. It changed my life but I found there were many issues with the current product. So, I wanted to design a better product for myself and for other people. I came back to Tokyo University as a Phd student. I have done this research since 2015 and then I built this company after three years. We have developed several generation prototypes. We have done engineering verification tests and we are going to pre-mass production in the early of next year.

What is the role of design in a high tech project like the Robotic Prosthetic Knee?
I think that design is very important in a high tech product like the robotic prosthetic knee joint because people focus on appearance. Especially in the prosthesis field, the traditional product looks very poor in appearance. So, we focus on design to create high function, a beautiful and cooler product for the handicap to change his life so the users can use the product in their daily life.

If somebody ask you if he or she should be a designer, what is your advice?
The need to understand engineering is especially important. Because while most designers focus on appearance, this is not enough because I don't think it always works for the product. They need to talk to the mechanical engineer and electrical engineer to have a better function and better appearance. To understand engineering is very important to the designer.

What does winning a Red Dot and being nominee for the top prize mean to this project and the team?
It is an honour and we are very pleased because this is a very competitive award. We are greatly encouraged and energised by the news of being the nominee. As we are a startup which tries to improve itself everyday to deliver this innovative product, such internationally recognised title will be a sign of confidence.

Red Dot Award: Design Concept celebrates winners on 6 and 7 October

The winners of Red Dot Award: Design Concept 2020 will be honoured for their design accomplishments. Their celebratory and winning moments filled with glitters and confetti will be presented online during the Online Award Celebration from 6 October 2020. The highest level of distinction accorded at the award, the Red Dot: Luminary, will be revealed online on 7 October 2020 at 6 p.m. Singapore Standard Time.