The big picture
Photo by Touch Bionics
It’s got an embedded computer, a rechargeable battery, and five small dc motors. It costs US $18 500. And it can do things most other prosthetic hands just can’t, like grabbing a paper cup without crushing it, turning a key in a lock, and pressing buttons on a cellphone. The fingers of Touch Bionics’ iLIMB Hand are controlled by the nerve impulses of the user’s arm, and they operate independently, adapting to the shape of whatever they’re grasping. The hand can also do superhuman tricks, like holding a very hot plate or gripping an object tirelessly for days. A skin-tone covering gives the bionic hand a lifelike look, but some customers prefer semitransparent models, to proudly flaunt their robotic hands. ”They like the Terminator look,” says Touch Bionics CEO Stuart Mead.
See more photos and videos at IEEE Spectrum’s robotics blog, Automaton, http://blogs.spectrum.ieee.org/automaton.