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Bionic Hand Makes it to Market 159

Posted by Zonk
from the we-have-the-technology dept.
root_42 writes "The BBC reports that a Scottish company has developed a bionic prosthetic hand, which is now going to market: 'The thumb and fingers can move and grip just like a human hand and are controlled by the patient's mind and muscles ... Mr Gow, who is the director of rehabilitation engineering services at NHS Lothian, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It's the first hand to come to the market that's actually had bending fingers just like your own hand."' The device really seems very "cool", compared to other prosthetics, and seems to allow the patients a wide variety of day-to-day activities. Also check out the patient gallery."
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Bionic Hand Makes it to Market

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  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by alexj33 (968322) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:21PM (#19888763)
    The important question is: does it come in shiny brass color, and can it hold a lightsaber?
    • No, the question is: Does it have a shiny chrome color, and can it be transformed into a knife? :P
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "No, the question is: Does it have a shiny chrome color, and can it be transformed into a knife? :P"

        No the question is...does it move in 'slow motion' and make a weird background noise?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Red Weasel (166333)
      I was more leaning toward a retractable spur and an integrated smart-link.

      Now we just need a violin player and well be all set.

    • Two words: (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ringfinger (629332) * on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:44PM (#19889137) Homepage
      "Awesome Attachments!"


      I can't imagine making something like this without attachments that extend it's use beyond that of the human hand.

      The goal shouldn't be to replace a hand, it should be to provide something much cooler.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TigerNut (718742)
        Better think way out of the box then. We have about a zillion things that are designed to be gripped and operated by a person's hand(s). Removing that interface requires that you adapt all those tools to be compatible with the next physical interface point (such as the elbow or shoulder?), as well as figuring out a logical control scheme that is as intuitive as what everyone is familiar with. Direct neural control of an angle grinder, for example, isn't very compelling to me. If you had a hand with hardwire
        • Re:Two words: (Score:4, Interesting)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:49PM (#19890277) Journal
          It's surprising how your brain adapts to process different types of nerve input. Like, if your prosthetic hand always gave you the sensation of cold when you pointed it in a northern direction, or the sensation of heat whenever you passed it near a "live" electrical source, or a strong magnetic field. They've got a device that allows you to "see" with your tongue [bbc.co.uk], and brain scans of the people using the device show that the visual cortext is active and processing...even in people who are blind from birth.

          So a limited signal palette is not necessarily a handicap, though the bandwidth obviously depends on nerve density, etc.

          • by Yetihehe (971185)
            Well, you can just use Vibrotactile belt [cogsci.uos.de] to get north direction.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
              Did you read the article in Wired [wired.com] about the guy who wore that thing for a year? That's what I was thinking of with the north thing.

              Lot of enhancements don't really interest me, but that one did. If they find a way to condense something like that to an implant, I'd be willing to try it out.
      • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:52PM (#19890333) Homepage Journal
        Great. Instead of cursing because you can't find you box of drill bits, you can curse because you can't find your fingers.

        Imagine having to walk around all day with your "ribbed for her pleasure" attachment.
        • by zobier (585066)

          Great. Instead of cursing because you can't find you box of drill bits, you can curse because you can't find your fingers.

          Imagine having to walk around all day with your "ribbed for her pleasure" attachment.

          Looks like someone's been reading The Baroque Cycle.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      will it blend?
    • by Joebert (946227)
      Either way, at least now I can quit sitting on mine untill it gets numb.
  • Finally, I will no longer live in fear of being introduced to counts [runleiarun.com], those cute lovable jawas [runleiarun.com], having a drink at the Cantina [runleiarun.com], bringing prey [runleiarun.com] back to my cave [runleiarun.com], being reunited with my father [runleiarun.com] or vice versa [runleiarun.com]!

    Yes sir, I can now tell the next robed guy where to shove it when I'm told his aren't the droids I'm looking for.
  • Cost? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by u-bend (1095729) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:23PM (#19888793) Homepage Journal
    Anyone know anything about the cost of these things? The cynic in me is imagining lawyers feverishly rewriting health insurance coverage clauses. I hope that as it becomes widespread, that "joe war-amputee" can afford it.
    • Cost (Score:2, Funny)

      by bdjacobson (1094909)

      Anyone know anything about the cost of these things? The cynic in me is imagining lawyers feverishly rewriting health insurance coverage clauses. I hope that as it becomes widespread, that "joe war-amputee" can afford it.
      Just a ballpark figure--

      My friend's bionic arm cost him ~$45k. I don't think his can move individual fingers though. So this one could cost even more.
    • Oh no, I can almost hear thousands of keyboards around the world furiously typing "Arm and a Leg" jokes. You've opened the floodgate now!
    • Re:Cost? (Score:5, Funny)

      by eln (21727) * on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:52PM (#19889275) Homepage
      6 million dollars.
    • by Politburo (640618)
      They won't have to rewrite anything. They'll just call it 'experimental' and deny coverage. Check out the last paragraph:

      Mr Gow, who works at a new state-of-the-art centre at the Astley Ainsley Hospital in Edinburgh, hopes the bionic hand could be available on the health service within two to five years.
    • by rkww (675767)
      It says $18000 per hand in the faq (accessible from the patient gallery link in the original post).
  • Luke, loosing a hand runs strong in our family, join your fake and with mine and together we will rule the Galaxy. Well Unless we get to close to a microwave or something then we will just jerk out hands spasmotically.
    • Luke, loosing a hand runs strong in our family, join your fake and with mine and together we will rule the Galaxy. Well Unless we get to close to a microwave or something then we will just jerk out hands spasmotically.
      (looks down at bionic hand, looks at microwave, slips hand in pants, puts microwave on for five minutes) Giggity-giggity-goo!
  • Feedback or Senses? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tb3 (313150) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:24PM (#19888829) Homepage
    It sounds from the article ("Now I can pick up a Styrofoam cup without crushing it. With my other hand, I would really have to concentrate on how much pressure I was putting on the cup.") that there's some form of feedback mechanism, but I thought that was years away. Without pressure sensors, a you really have is a 'Waldo' attached to your wrist, you've got no way of knowing how much force you're exerting on an object.

    Then, of course, you really want the rest of the sensory package, touch, temperature, pain feedback, and all the other things your hands do for you.
    • Then, of course, you really want the rest of the sensory package, touch, temperature, pain feedback, and all the other things your hands do for you.


      Be careful. This is Slashdot, after all. Unless they start making bionic penises ...

    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:06PM (#19889487)

      "Now I can pick up a Styrofoam cup without crushing it. With my other hand, I would really have to concentrate on how much pressure I was putting on the cup."
      A bionic hand that cannot crush a styrofoam cup? Worthless! I want one that can crush coal into diamonds! I just need to remember to use the other hand for, well, you know...I don't know what gonads turn into when you crush them with 500 tons of pressure and I don't want to find out.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't know what gonads turn into when you crush them with 500 tons of pressure and I don't want to find out.
        Well, since we're all ultimately carbon based lifeforms, they'll probably turn into smaller diamonds with interesting impurities. Or, as in your case, a pair of very very small diamonds.
    • by pragma_x (644215)
      IIRC, there are proshtetics available with tactile feedback - so I think you're right about the styrofoam cup thing. I wouldn't be suprised if that's pretty much a standard part of the package with something this advanced.

      But you'd think they could at least wire up some temperature feedback with some peltiers or something.
  • But... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    does it make that cool "na na na na na na" sound like Steve Austin's bionic implants made?

  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:24PM (#19888845) Homepage Journal
    I have a mentally retarded brother-in-law who has hands we call "the grips of steel." He's mentally like a 2 year old but physically like a 25 year old in great shape. When he grips onto you, he can break bones, and leave a bruise at the minimum. It's impossible to get out of his kung-fu grip, so we don't hold his hand anymore but his wrist.

    I always think of prosthetic hands when I have to help him into or out of a car or down steps. If the hand doesn't respond to the user, or if the user has a bad mental reaction, I wonder how much force can be applied by the prosthetic. Car windows aren't supposed to choke you if they're closed around your neck, but a prosthetic hand has to have the right balance of strength AND speed. What is the back-up release mechanism if there's a problem?
    • Check out the pictures, [touchbionics.com] man. While I see you have a point, if I were missing a hand, I would be totally overjoyed to get one of these. There is a picture of a person using a blackberry. It is sensitive enough to pick up a Styrofoam cup without crushing it. Sure there MIGHT be some weird defect that MIGHT make it go crazy and MIGHT get someone hurt, but I've had weird defects where I accidentally slammed the door in my brother's face. He got pretty hurt. By and large this is a massive improvement, espe
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      Car windows aren't supposed to choke you if they're closed around your neck, but a prosthetic hand has to have the right balance of strength AND speed. What is the back-up release mechanism if there's a problem?

      So it's technically a weapon that could malfunction in the right circumstances.. I wonder if he should leave his hand at the reception before entering a bank or a bar.

      However given that this thing is supposed to be useful for casual activity, for extended periods of time, mobile, I doubt it has huge
      • > I doubt it has huge horse power built into it, for the same
        > reason your phone doesn't have quad Xeon in it.

        Because it might burn his penis?

        No, wait, you said Xeon, I was thinking Pentium IV. Never mind.
    • > What is the back-up release mechanism if there's a problem?

      I know that it's fashionable on /. to be a doomsayer about every new piece of technology that comes along. Guaranteed karma 'n' all. But how to make an off switch was understood as far back as the 18th century.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by vertinox (846076)
      What is the back-up release mechanism if there's a problem?

      You have to mentally think the safe word... In Russian.
  • Nice (Score:3, Funny)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:25PM (#19888849)
    This makes Terminator's job in Judgement Day harder: peeling off your hand no longer means you're a killer robot from the distopian future.
  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lancelotlink (958750) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:26PM (#19888859)
    These people look really happy. I'm so excited for them. To have regained this much manipulation is amazing. Best of luck for these patients and this company
    • Check out the pictures [touchbionics.com] as mentioned in the summary. I'm sure it's a much easier problem probably basically solved, but I was also impressed by the finish, you'd have to look very closely to even notice that these are prosthetics at all (gallery shows both skeletal and finished/covered limbs.) Which of of these two hands [touchbionics.com] is bionic? That they actually work too is amazing, I'm not surprised by the wide grins in all the photos.
  • Sorry the stereotype Scotland really annoys me. No matter where it was developed this a great development that will help many many people. "Bionic Hand" Made in Scotland :)
    • Sorry the stereotype Scotland really annoys me. No matter where it was developed this a great development that will help many many people. "Bionic Hand" Made in Scotland :)

      How could you not mention Scotch?!? And I mean real Scotch; not the crap named after colors and owned by an English conglomerate.

    • Scotland is more than Bagpipes and Tartans
      True, there's also haggis. Good stuff.
      --
      Looking to trade in your girlfriend? Now you can!! [usedgirlfriend.com]
  • Cyborg fisting porn!

    • I just hope it's not voice-activated!

      "...jerk it off...owww!...fuck me!...noooooo!...ahhhrrrgh!...."
    • I want the one that sings 'I can't get no satisfaction' during use. No mention of battery life. Do you have to send it back to apple to get the battery replaced?
  • how strong? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icegreentea (974342) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:37PM (#19889023)
    does anyone have any idea how strong (grip strength, shock resistant, etc) these hands are? i notice theres diagram in the article showing a 'power grip', but it doesn't go into detail on its limits.
  • by ehaggis (879721)
    The picture [bbc.co.uk] at the bottom says, "i-limb" project - Apple may have something say about this!
  • by i3spanky (191866) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:39PM (#19889067)
    ...did anyone else reading the headline first think that the hand escaped and found its own way to the market?
  • Not the first (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:40PM (#19889073) Homepage
    This isn't the first myoelectric (muscle-powered) prosthesis to make it to market. There have been a few. These devices basically work by detecting electrical signals in muscles near the end of the remaining limb. What's really cool is the stuff in development using actual nerve signals instead. These could prove to be much more powerful because the nerves carry much more information and would allow for much finer control than you can get with myoelectric prostheses. Still, myoelectric is significantly better than passive prostheses.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now I can type with both hands while viewing porn and still have an extra hand available (and one that doesn't tire)!
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      The third arm attachment would be very, very handy (no pun intended) for lots of other things as well.

      • When cooking a pie, one hand to hold the cooking pan up, one hand to use the spoon to scrape it into the pie crust, and one hand to make sure that the pie crust doesn't fly off on the floor when you bump it the wrong way.
      • When soldering, hold one piece with one hand (pliers recommended), one piece with the other (bionic) hand, and the soldering gun/pencil with the third.
      • When nailing/screwing something t
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:40PM (#19889093)
    It would really suck to lose a hand but it would be awesome to gain a remote-controlled Thing. I for one welcome our scampering disembodied robotic hand masters. :)
  • sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by AxemRed (755470) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:42PM (#19889107)
    This replaces the hook as my limb-replacement of choice.
    • by Don_dumb (927108)
      And your going to have a better chance in court when you appeal Mr Hamza. It was just appearances that let you down in court.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by ehaggis (879721) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:45PM (#19889165) Homepage Journal
    But does it run Linux? Of course, Linux runs on Palm devices!
  • Be Careful (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There's a video on youtube that shows what can go wrong with mechanical hands when they are out of control:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G334mNp8xbY [youtube.com]

    Hopefully, this won't happen to anyone else.
  • Well guys, it looks like they've made the first 9% of what could be the best thing for slashdotters since vi!
  • by icontender (1129353) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:13PM (#19889625)
    The worlds first bionic hand job. This also brings new meaning to the "stranger"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Joe Snipe (224958)
      WOW. It took one hour to get a masturbation joke on an article about a robotic hand. Kudos to everyones self control today!
  • When they get a bionic arm together, we'll have one of these installed for skiboxing.

    No, we won't, that's a stupid SF gag.

    Yes we will.

    Look, I'm running the arms, you've got the legs.

    But that was when it was 2 limbs each...
  • Will the makers ensure it won't suffer from alien hand syndrome and go nuts knocking things over or from doing things the owner simply didn't intend it to do ^-^?
  • by DaleGlass (1068434) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:33PM (#19889979) Homepage
    If I needed something of the sort I think I'd prefer something shiny and futuristic looking. Maybe something like from the Fullmetal Alchemist [infostore.org] anime. If it's going to look obviously artificial at least it could be something that looks cool.
    • by Fastolfe (1470)
      I was just about to post the same thing. If I needed an artificial hand, I'd want it to look like the Terminator's or Anakin's replacement hand. And maybe it could have a glove or something that you could wear if you didn't want to attract attention, but I want to be able to scare the crap out of kids if I want to.

      And while I'm thinking in this direction, why does it have to be shaped like a hand at all? Build a platform out of it with a universal socket that I can put whatever tools I want to on it. A
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rkww (675767)

      They thought of that... see the faq:

      Q. What about the sci-fi robotic hand?

      A. Some patients, mainly military personnel, particularly love the robotic nature of the uncovered i-LIMB Hand and prefer not to wear it with a cosmesis glove. However, because of the need to provide a grip surface and to protect the hand from dust and water, Touch Bionics has developed the i-LIMB Skin. This is a thin layer of semi-transparent material that has been computer-modeled to accurately wrap to every contour of the hand

  • by pete.com (741064) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:33PM (#19889995)
    Well if they aren't going to create a Bionic women, a Bionic hand is the next best thing I guess. This may cause some very interesting trips to the ER.
  • They wouldn't have had this problem if they had just stayed away from the ocean and loose seals like their mother had told them in the first place.
  • 6 inch retractable titanium claws. That would be cool...
  • by PPH (736903)
    The Addams Family had 'Thing' years ago.


    Now, when they figure out how Uncle Fester powered that lightbulb in his mouth, the energy crisis will be over.

  • I wonder if it'll come with the sound from the 6 million dollar man? Although, I'd be upset if everytime I lift my hand the "puuuuuuuuuuuuuur" keeps showing up. Plus masturbating would be somewhat more symphonic than I would like.

    sri
  • I'd rather it had fingers like Katie Holmes...

  • Could you give me a Hand here?
  • by peterpi (585134)
    It gets the thumbs up from me!
  • by geekoid (135745)
    Music, and Big foot appearance.

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