iRobot becomes a reality as man gets smartphone built into his artificial arm

By Emma Reynolds
Last updated at 10:34 PM on 26th October 2011

Glued to his phone: Trevor Prideaux is the proud owner of the world’s first prosthetic arm with a smartphone dock

iRobot has become a reality after a British man became the world’s first person to have a smartphone dock built into his prosthetic arm.

Trevor Prideaux, who was born without a left arm, can now call and text with ease using the Nokia C7 stuck in his fibreglass and laminate forearm.

His story sounds like it is straight out of the Will Smith sci-fi film, in which the actor plays a man with a high-tech mechanical limb.

Mr Prideaux, from Wedmore in Somerset, was fitted with his first prosthetic arm at three years old.

But the 50-year-old catering manager decided to enlist the help of medical experts and Nokia bosses to create an arm to suit his needs.

‘I think this is the first time this has ever been done in the world – and it is brilliant,’ said the father of one.

‘I can now take calls and make texts just by using my one hand, while the phone sits inside my arm.

‘The phone slots smoothly and securely within my limb and is easily removable, when required.

‘I think this would help a lot of people with prosthetic arms – especially those who were not born with the disability.

‘People who have had motorbike crashes and soldiers who have lost limbs – they could all benefit from this.’

Mr Prideaux found that texting and making calls with mobile phones was very difficult – especially with a smartphone.

When he tested out an iPhone while thinking of buying one, he realised the technology ‘was not ideally suited to be used with only one hand.’

He contacted Apple to try to obtain a blank iPhone casing to test it out – but they refused his request.

‘I was born without my arm so I am used to adapting to things – but I thought that others must be struggling too,’ he said.

‘I wondered whether it was possible to have a mobile phone built into my limb.’

Fortunately, when he went to his local 02 shop to get an upgrade on his Nokia, the staff agreed to assist him in his efforts.

Technicians at The Exeter Mobility Centre then produced the prototype for the cutting-edge arm – in just five weeks.

Prosthetist Steve Gallichan, technician Les Street and undergraduate student Sarah Bennett painstakingly made a fibre cast of the phone and built a cradle into the skin-coloured limb.

Mr Prideaux said: ‘This phone is slightly narrower than an iPhone and has both a qwerty and alphanumeric board, which is easier for me to use.

‘My Nokia C7 sits within my forearm between my stump socket and the single knob rotary that holds my limb attachments in place.

‘Now when I get a call, I can either hold my arm up to my ear or put it on speakerphone. I can also take it out if I need to.

‘Texting is also much easier and a lot safer. I am hugely grateful to the people EMC. This is a leap forward which has helped me out a lot and can also aid others.’

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