i-LIMB prosthetic hand grabs UK's top engineering award

A day in the life of the i-LIMB

The i-LIMB hand, an advanced prosthesis developed by UK-based Touch Bionics, has won the UK's prestigious MacRobert award. Since 1969, that award has rewarded the year's best engineering project with a gold medal and a cash prize of £50,000 (US $98,630.50). The committee announced the 2008 winner at last night's Annual Awards Dinner.

The i-LIMB has five individually powered articulating digits, and it has been commercially available since mid-2007. So far, more than 200 people have been fitted for the hand, including U.S. soldiers who lost limbs in the Iraq war.

"The hand has two main unique features," said Touch Bionics CEO Stuart Mead in a BBC News article:

"The first is that we put a motor into each finger, which means that each finger is independently driven and can articulate.

"The second is that the thumb is rotatable through 90 degrees, in the same way as our thumbs are.

"The hand is the first prosthetic hand that replicates both the form and the function of the human hand."

On May 15, TouchBionics made its U.S. presence a permanent reality by acquiring

LIVINGSKIN, a New York-based company that makes the lifelike prosthetic skin on the i-LIMB hand. The company's realistic looking "skin" resembles human skin by simulating the three dermal layers of natural human skin.

I don't know what's happening with DEKA's Luke Arm, but it looks like Dean Kamen has some competition.

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