Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a debilitating disease occurring primarily in young males, which results in the loss of motor function and the deterioration of muscles from a very young age. Thousands of young Australians are impacted by the disease which has a devastating impact on quality of life, and ultimately a 100% mortality rate. In 2013, the Australian Government did not have a policy on rare diseases, making it extremely difficult for sufferers to seek government assistance in treating the disease, and highly complicated for charities to fund research. We were contacted by the charity Save Our Sons to help harness the voice of the people to convince the government to instigate a policy and help make an impactful change.
In collaboration with Save Our Sons, Havas and Reactive, we designed and built ‘The Most Powerful Arm’, a petition signing robot that was programmed in the handwriting of Jacob Lancaster, a 19 year old Australian male suffering from DMD. The public were directed to a website where they could learn about the cause and watch the 24 hour live stream of the robot arm. Upon clicking “Sign my name”, they were prompted to connect with Facebook, where their name was added to the robot queue. The robot would sign their name, instantly trigger a photo of their signature, then post that image back to their Facebook page, prompting others to join the cause.
Initially slated for a 2 week installation at Customs House, it was extended to 12 weeks due to massive demand. Gathering a staggering 32,000 unique signatures from the Australian public, at the time, it was the largest and the first ever digital petition tabled by the Senate.
The Most Powerful Arm appeared on Australia primetime TV, radio, and in all major press outlets. Awareness levels grew exponentially and, in addition, thousands of people donated money to Save Our Sons, completely unprompted. We’ve always believed that technology can impact the world in real, human ways and with The Most Powerful Arm we motivated people, not only to understand an issue otherwise unknown, but also motivated them to do something about it.
In 2014, The Most Powerful Arm was awarded the first ever D&AD Black Pencil in Innovation.
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