April 18, 2013, 10:49 AM — It's amazing how prosthetic hands have gone from mere hooks to much more natural-looking, five-fingered robotic parts. Like seemingly every other piece of technology coming out today, we could soon be controlling robotic hands with our iPhones thanks the new i-Limb Ultra by Touch Bionics.
Getting your robot hand to clench or rotate using signals interpolated from your muscles seems relatively easy. But it is much more difficult to command each individual finger--even the most advanced robotic hand we've seen, the BeBionic 3, has fingers that need to be manually arranged--and so Touch Bionics has developed a new hand that you can control using an iPhone app.
According to Touch Bionics, the i-Limb's four digits and rotating thumb can be set into 24 different preset motions and gestures using shortcuts on the Biosim app for iPhone and iPod Touch. This includes gestures for mouse-clicking, paper-grabbing, and home-row typing. In addition to providing shortcuts for hand gestures, the app will come with a training mode to help you fine-tune your prosthetic-controlling skills, and a diagnostic mode to check if the hand is functioning properly.
It all seems very meta to use your free hand to tap away at a phone to command your prosthetic hand. But seeing as many of us seem to use our phones every waking moment of every day, maybe there's something to this idea...