Touch Bionics updates i-limb Ultra Revolution prosthetic hand
Touch Bionics has given its i-limb Ultra Revolution a number improvements to its grip functionality
Touch Bionics has unveiled the latest enhancements to its i-limb Ultra Revolution at OTWorld 2014 International Congress. Users can now set and assign different grips for different objects and configure the prosthetic hand via Android apps.
Touch Bionics calls the i-limb Ultra Revolution, "the most advanced and versatile prosthesis available," and says it, "offers more dexterity and moves more like a natural hand than any other powered prosthetic hand."
The i-limb was launched in 2007 and was the world's first fully articulating and commercially available bionic hand. The Ultra Revolution followed last year and is used, amongst others, by social psychologist Dr. Bertolt Meyer, who last year presented a TV program looking at state-of-the-art artificial limbs, organs and blood.
The Ultra Revolution allows users to program a number of primary grip types into it that can be triggered by different muscle movements. These will generally be the grip types that the user most often uses. The recent upgrades to the Ultra Revolution focus on increasing grip adaptability.
Touch Bionics has introduced "Grip Chips," which are Bluetooth-enabled devices that can be stuck to objects and will trigger a pre-programmed grip configuration when detected by the Ultra Revolution. For example, a Grip Chip might be stuck to a keyboard to initiate a grip pattern best suited to typing. They're useful for triggering specific grip patterns that are used regularly, but perhaps not enough to warrant programming to the Ultra Revolution itself for triggering via muscle movement.
In addition to the introduction of Grip Chips, the biosim and my i-limb mobile apps have been updated to provide users with up to 12 additional custom grips. By programming custom settings, users can now access up to 36 different grip options. Like the Grip Chips, the apps allow users to save infrequently-used grip options for quick access when they are required.
Touch Bionics has also announced that all i-limb prostheses now have compatible Android apps, instead of just iOS apps, and that the silicon skin fingertips of the Ultra Revolution have been modified to be conductive so that wearers can use touch-screen devices. This will be of particular benefit for bilateral wearers.
Source: Touch Bionics
About the Author
Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds.
All articles by Stu Robarts
I am curious if the primary image, the pen and paper, was deliberately reversed. (Pen in left hand, wedding band on right ring fingers) Writing with the left hand is clearly not abnormal, although statistically less likely, but the ring is somewhat obvious.
Onto the larger point, I'm much more curious in the next step which is using the frontal lobe to control the limb instead of perripheral nerves. To truly integrate the artificial limb into the organic structure of the human body. When, after a car accident or injury, you wake up and have to be informed the hand you just used to drink water from a glass isn't your natural hand. We truly do live in a fascinating and inspiring point in human history...
From the hand I saw the other day the guy was using micro movements in the stub that was left of his arm to control the hand. The inherent problem with that is the upper arm is intended for large muscle movement and the hand is meant for a bunch of small intricate muscle movements so it seems like even with perfect limb technology there is a major limitation to overcome.
Short of directly reading the nervous system maybe the best way to control the prosthetic arm is to read micro-movements in the other hand.
For example take something like the Razr orbweaver that is meat for gaming, each of the keys can be macro'd to have multiple different purposes based on combinations (16, alt + 16, shift + 16, alt + space + 16 etc. are all uniquely different. combine it with a mouse and you could successfully power a prosthetic arm/hand with a lot more accuracy than learning to use a couple large muscles remaining in the partial arm. I understand that solves one problem and creates another but now instead of resting your hand on it build it into a glove like Nintendo Power Glove that recognized gestures like Leap Motion.
The difficulty is differentiating between normal movements of the good hand and commands sent to the prosthetic but the normal hand is capable of hundreds of individual movements, combinations of movements, double clicking etc. that even while holding an object offers granularity to control a prosthetic you wouldn't have using only large shoulder/arm muscles.
Another good reason to use this method is instead of using whats left of the bad arm which is highly subject to change on an individual basis and comes with higher costs the user interface for a glove based system on the good arm could be standardized and even manufactured cheaply. A standard UI around it could even have some use in gaming, graphics design, or industrial robotics where people with prosthetics who have mastered the UI could be sought after as robotics/machinery operators instead of just viewed as more limited than other employees.
I think that's the best next step before direct neural control is possible.
They should develop a Google Glass app that has object/shape recognition that automatically 'switches' the grip of the hand depending on what you're looking at.
Thankfully amputees of all variations have seen huge improvements since the nasty-looking "hook" that was all they could get.
As micro-electronics, minco-engineering and computing generally improves so dramatically, natural looking and working limbs or degrees of usefulness will improve with much better quality of life everywhere.
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