May 5, 2016 3:13 pm
Updated: May 5, 2016 6:59 pm

‘JACO’ robotic arm aims to give independence back to people with disabilities

WATCH ABOVE: Senior Anchor Jamie Orchard sat down with Kinova founder Charles Deguire to discuss 'JACO', a robotic arm that aims to give independence back to people with disabilities.


MONTREAL – When dealing with physical disabilities, tasks like putting on clothes, picking something up or opening doors can be significantly difficult, but Montreal-area company Kinova is trying to change that.

The company’s innovative robotic arm, known as JACO, aims to help clients become less dependent on family and professional attendants.

The wheelchair-mountable lightweight arm features 16 different movements and comes with the option of two or three flexible fingers.

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Senior Anchor Jamie Orchard sat down with Kinova founder Charles Deguire to discuss his invention.

“The idea behind JACO was to support people with disabilities and expand their range of action, so empower them to do more things,” Deguire said.

Having grown up with three family members in wheelchairs, Deguire was familiar with the difficulties surrounding everyday tasks, like drinking a glass of water or pushing an elevator button.

In the past, most robotic arms were meant to replace people in the industrial sector, like those on an assembly line.

Over its four-year development, JACO was designed to work alongside people.

“They are heavy and bulky, but our robot is lightweight and compact and safe,” said Deguire.

“Kids can handle it and people who know nothing about robotics can control it.”

In the rehabilitation video below, Kinova shows their youngest subject, a 5-year-old boy in a wheelchair, grabbing his bag from his locker and precisely working with building blocks.

Deguire told Global News JACO’s capabilities are not limited to disability assistance, and said the company is branching out into different industries.

For medical purposes, JACO could be used to assist with surgery, and in law enforcement, it could manipulate bombs or hazardous materials.

“There’s a lot of options when you have an interface that is smart and can integrate other technologies,” he said.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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