Posted 04/15/2013 at 12:34 PM
Posted 4 years ago
Smartphones have become an integral part of our everyday lives in the past few years and the apps that are on them allow us to do everything from controlling the television to finding the answers to random questions. I guess, then, it should be no surprise that an app has been invented that can operate a prosthetic limb.
i-limb is the brainchild of Scottish-based robotics firm Touch Bionics and is an operational bionic hand that is powered by an iPhone.
The company boasts that the prosthesis offers “a range of features beyond the capabilities of any other prosthetic hand,” and it is all thanks to integration with your smartphone.
The i-limb has 24 Quick Grip options, powered thumb rotation, and extra sensitive electrodes, all of which combine to – as Touch Bionics’ CEO Ian Stevens says – enable “wearers to more easily perform activities of daily living and thus increase their quality of life.”
Each finger on the hand can be articulated to provide precise gripping actions that are not possible on alternative prosthetic hands. A range of wrist movement options also allow for more “natural positioning of hand when gripping or picking up objects.” What this means is that, with a simple tap of button, it is possible to do anything from typing to tying shoelaces to picking up a pen – ordinary things to most of us, but revolutionary in terms of artificial limbs.
Touch Bionics has combined prosthetics with technology in the past with previous products such as a bionic finger and Bluetooth programmable hand; however, the company has yet to launch anything on the level of the i-limb.
As you may expect, technology like this doesn’t come cheap, Touch Bionics’ Karen Hakenson telling CNET that the i-limb will cost between $60,000 and $120,000 depending on country; although, the price does include patient fitting and training. Bertolt Meyer – one of the first people to wear the device, believes that the cost offers value for money: “Powered thumb rotation, combined with the mobile app and quick access to all these new grips, gives me natural hand function that I never imagined would be possible.”
With technological advancements like this, it can surely only be a matter of time before we see a real-life smartphone powered Robocop!