Last week I was in stately London, the home of the Queen, Henry VIII and now Michelangelo’s hand. Bionic hands have been in discussion since Steve Austin’s first accident. However, last week in England Chris Taylor become the recipient of the first robotic limb for a mere $75,000 a hand.
I guess it is cynical of me to judge quality of life issues by the cost per finger, but the novel approach about this hand by Ottobock is that it has posable thumbs. According to Geoff Harding of Ottobock the “myoelectric hand” is operated “electronic impulses given from the muscles in the residual limb. As the muscles make contact, electrodes on the skin put out a signal and in turn operate the hand.”
Ottobock is not the only prosthetic company going after bionics, Touch Bionics is also developing its own “multi-articulating motorized fingers” with its new iLimb productline. The future of robotics is exploding laterally in our veins with new limbs and intelligence (see NY Times article). At the same time, I was reminded that robotics is at the end of the day about human beings, as Chris Taylor’s breakthrough happened within days of Brendan Marrocco’s double arm transplant. I think both men deserve a thumbs up!