Science & Technology

Bill Gates Discovers Limbitless Solutions for Kids in Need

The philanthropist and Microsoft founder says UCF student startup is revolutionizing the way the world thinks about artificial limbs.

By Eric Michael ’96 |
June 11, 2018

Bill Gates, philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, says Limbitless Solutions is revolutionizing how the world perceives artificial limbs in a post on his personal blog.

“The bionic arms have had a life-changing impact not only on the children’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks like getting dressed, picking things up, or buckling a seatbelt, but also their own sense of themselves,” Gates writes.

The post was inspired by a visit to the University of Central Florida in October during which Gates visited the nonprofit’s on-campus headquarters.

“Limbitless is working to change the way the world thinks about artificial limbs,” writes Gates. “Instead of trying to mimic the look of human skin as existing prosthetics do, Limbitless’s engineers and artists work together to design and manufacture artificial limbs that are colorful and artistic.”

Gates recounts meeting bionic arm recipient Annika Emmert, a 13-year-old who designed her arm with red, pink and white flowers.

“The bionic arms have had a life-changing impact not only on the children’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks like getting dressed, picking things up, or buckling a seatbelt, but also their own sense of themselves,” Gates writes.

Limbitless Solutions was launched in 2014 by a group of UCF students led by Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD, then a graduate student in the mechanical engineering program who wanted to develop new bionic solutions for children with missing limbs using additive manufacturing technology and other innovations. Today, the nonprofit organization has expanded its scope into award-winning video games that train kids to use their bionic limbs, a comic book series about “The Bionic Kid,” hands-free wheelchair upgrades to assist people with ALS and MS, and most recently announced they’re launching the  first U.S. clinical trial for 3D-printed prosthetics in partnership with Oregon Health & Science University.

In May, Gates blogged about another important takeaway from this October visit to UCF, calling university an example of how to effectively use online learning to increase student success and tuition affordability.