New Bionic Hand Gives Us Glimpses of Star Wars, Bionic Bodies

November 07 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 9 Hot

Touch Bionics, a “leading developer of advanced upper-limb prosthetics” has just made Time’s list of Top 50 inventions of 2008 (coming it at #14).

What’s so amazing about this invention?

For starters, each finger is powered by its own motor. This allows the wearer to individually move their fingers for more accurate manipulation of objects. It’s made of a high-strength plastic resulting in a prosthetic that is lightweight as well as appealing to the eyes. Maintenance of the hand is also very simple. “The modular construction of the i-LIMB Hand means that each individually powered finger can be quickly removed by simply removing one screw. This means that a prosthetist can easily swap out fingers that require servicing and patients can return to their everyday lives after a short clinic visit.” This way you can still have use of the hand while part of it is getting repaired.

Powered by a lithium-ion battery, the hand has different types of grips that it utilizes for specialized manipulation. There’s the “key grip” that can pick up thin objects such as paper and business cards (pictured above), a “power” grip for picking up luggage, and even an “index point” for when you only need to use one finger. The controls to the hand itself comes from a “unique, highly intuitive control system that uses a traditional two-input myoelectric (muscle signal) to open and close the hand’s life-like fingers.” It uses nerve endings and muscles in the persons remaining arm to move the fingers.

Sometimes no matter how good a prosthetic gets, it always ends up looking like a mesh of plastic and metal. It is for this reason that Touch Bionics can also get an incredibly life-like skin covering for the bionic hand (in the picture above, the right one is the bionic hand). Of course the shape of the hand is still a little off from the users other hand, but as the shape gets more refined and Touch Bionics goes through with its plan to develop a wrist and forearm, we could be seeing life-like and realistic prosthetics in the next five years. Personally, I like the iRobot look to it.

When will you see it? Only about five people in the US currently have one. But with the two wars going on, demand could bring this into major production in 2009.

It makes you wonder though, if people can already hack into Pacemakers, could they potentially hack into prosthetic limbs? We might have a crazy virus that makes all the prosthetics start doing crazy things.

Be sure and check out the Touch Bionics website for tons of great images and more detailed information.

via Scientific American

Images courtesy of Touch Bionics

Comment Thread (2 Responses)

  1. This is a fantastic invention!!! Touch bionics has now opened the door to a new level of independence for people who have lost a limb. I cant wait to see how they go with the leg adaptation. I wonder how the integration of artificial limbs and direct skeletal attachments will go. In England they have sorted out the infection concerns and people have notice a feeling of hot, cold and pressure in the directly attached legs. Is the next breakthrough an artificial limb that can feel…..?

    Posted by: LifeORiley   November 10, 2008
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  2. This would have to be in my top 10 things I have ever seen. It’s amazing.

    Posted by: christinep   November 17, 2008
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