Marketed as the world's first fully articulating and commercially available bionic hand, the i-LIMB comes with five individually-powered digits. The battery-powered limb leverages a force-sensitive resistor that responds to muscle contractions and impulses for movement. The i-LIMB is already commercially available.
No one wants to be stuck using a prosthetic arm or leg. But there are some exciting and sleek advances on the horizon. The ReWalk, for example, allows paralyzed users to stand, walk, climb stairs, and more--all with the help of a pair of "robotic pants" that are decked out with motors and motion sensors. The ReWalk, which is being developed by Israeli startup Argo Medical Technologies Ltd., will go on sale in January for approximately $100,000.
Bespoke Innovations, a San Francisco-based startup that aims to sell "designer body parts," recently picked up $1.6 million in funding for its prosthetic limb casings, which can be wrapped in everything from embroidered leather to shimmering metal. Bespoke's casings will go on sale next year for $4,000 and up.
Honda's Bodyweight Support Assist isn't exactly a prosthetic, but it does help the disabled and elderly squat for long periods of time without tiring. The device features a motorized frame with a pair of shoes at one end and a saddle at the other. Users simply switch on the device, put on the shoes, lift the saddle between their thighs, and voila, crouching is made easy. No word on when the device will go on sale.
The JaipurKnee may not be sexy, but it's cheap. Developed by a Stanford engineer in partnership with JaipurFoot, a charity that offers prosthetics to Indian amputees, the device costs just $20 (high-end prosthetics can cost upwards of $50,000). The key to the device's low price point: a nylon polymer filled with oil for lubrication. So far, a handful of JaipurKnees have been distributed in India. Over the next few years, JaipurFoot hopes to give out at least 100,000 more.
Prosthetics don't have to be limited to limbs. Researchers at Stanford University are working on electronic skin made out of a thin rubber film fashioned into a grid of millions of tiny pyramids. It's so sensitive that it can detect the presence of a 20-milligram fly carcass. The skin is still in the research and development phase, though--it will probably be many years before it hits the market.
Prosthetic legs that allow users to run are already on the market, but what about prosthetics for swimming? Enter the Neptune flipper, a fin designed to help amputees swim quickly. Created by Swedish designer Richard Stark, the flipper is just a concept--for now.
The Smart Hand project is the product of 10 years of work from researchers at Lund University in Sweden and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Italy. So far, the researchers have developed a hand featuring four motors and forty sensors. The prosthetic sends signals to the brain, taking advantage of impulses traveling down neurons to the amputation site, so that users can have feeling in their hands.
Ultimately, the team of researchers hopes to create an intelligent artificial hand that looks and feels like a real hand.
Fast CompanyArgoBespoke InnovationsHondaJaipurfoot.orgStanfordRichard StarkSmart Hand