It’s only a matter of time until supercharged bionic body parts become more desirable than our own fleshy counterparts, and this might just be the first step.
A woman from London has become the first UK user of a new prosthetic that’s being peddled as the world’s most life-like robotic hand.
Nicky Ashwell was born without her right hand, but now uses the British-built bebionic robo-appendage.
The 29-year-old’s new hand was developed using F1 technology, and “perfectly mimics” the functions of a real hand courtesy of 14 different precision grips.
That’s thanks to the 337 discrete mechanical parts that allow the prosthetic to function in a natural and realistic way.
“When I first tried the bebionic Small hand it was an exciting and strange feeling; it immediately opened up so many more possibilities for me,” explained Ashwell. “I realised that I had been making life challenging for myself, when I didn’t need to.”
She continued: “The movements now come easily and look natural; I keep finding myself being surprised by the little things, like being able to carry my purse while holding my boyfriend’s hand. I’ve also been able to do things that were previously not possible, like riding a bike and lifting weights.”
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The hand can purportedly withstand weights of up to 45kg, and even hold a wine glass.
The bebionic uses sensors triggered by Ashwell’s muscle movements to activate motion. Movements are then coordinated by powerful microprocessors and individual motors in each finger.
The hand took seven years of research, development, and manufacturing, which is reflected in the £10,000 price tag.
For more complicated multi-jointed prosthetics designed for patients with shoulder amputations, the price quickly rises to £100,000.