The fact that the hand is such a debilitating body part to lose has spurred researchers to develop a functional and aesthetically pleasing bionic replacement
. While seemingly not as severe as the loss of an entire hand, the loss of fingers can be just as much of a hindrance and represents the largest group of arm amputees. Short of removing the remaining partial hand, there has been no bionic option available to replace missing fingers. Now, the same company responsible for the i-LIMB Hand
has addressed this deficit with the launch of ProDigits, the world’s first powered-bionic finger.
Scientists have successfully wired a state-of-the-art artificial hand to existing nerve endings in the stump of a severed arm. Its creators say the device, called “SmartHand,” resembles a real hand in function, sensitivity and appearance. In order to develop such an intelligent artificial prosthetic hand
with all the basic features displayed by a real one, the SmartHand team integrated recent advances in nanobioscience, cognitive neuroscience and information technologies.
Six million dollars probably wouldn’t get you much of a bionic man these days, but a new process for coating metal implants could vastly improve the lives of the growing number of people who have undergone complicated total joint replacement surgeries. The new electrochemical process improves the implants’ functionality, longevity and integration into the body by producing a coating that is virtually indistinguishable from the body’s own material.
The latest example of biomimicry in robotics to cross our desk is from German electrical automation company Festo
, which has used the shape of the acquatic, flightless bird to construct two different types of bionic penguins. The AquaPenguins use the bird's hydrodynamic body contours and wing propulsion to allow the robot to maneuver in cramped spaces, turn on the spot and, unlike their real-life counterparts, swim backwards. The larger helium-filled AirPenguins use the same principles to lift the usually flightless bird into the air.
Earlier this week we looked at developments in low-cost prosthetics
, but at the other end of the spectrum, advanced prosthetic devices like Ossur's recently announced second generation POWER KNEE are opening up new frontiers in the field. As the world’s first motor-powered artificially intelligent prosthesis for above the knee amputees, the POWER KNEE is designed to enable daily activities without having to think about movement. Something most of us take for granted.
After years of wearing a patch to hide his disfigured right eye, damaged as a child in a shooting accident, Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence was forced eventually to replace the eye with a prosthetic one. The camera on Spence’s cell phone, though, gave him a rather novel idea. What if he could build a miniature, wireless video camera into his prosthetic eye?
What followed has become the Eyeborg Project
, the progress of which can be now followed online.
For those suffering from degenerative eye diseases, abilities which most of us take for granted like following white lines on roads and sorting socks can have a huge impact on quality of life. "Bionic-eye" technologies that can artificially restore sight are creeping closer to reality and now one of the most promising systems to grace our pages - the Argus II Retinal Implant
- is beginning to reap rewards in the real world with positive outcomes reported in the preliminary results of the device's feasibility study and personal stories beginning to emerge of the difference this technology can make to peoples lives.
The University of Reading has designed a robot that is controlled by 300,000 cultured rat neurons. The team anticipates that the behavior of the rat neurons will provide insight into how brains store data, which could lead to a better understanding of disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and strokes.
May 6, 2008 The advent of the robotic age is upon us and we can expect a huge transformation in the coming decade as robots of all shapes and sizes make their presence felt in many aspects of our lives. But robots wont just stand by our side as assistants, we'll actually climb aboard and wear them like a shell or suit of armor. This type of robot - known as an exoskeleton
- is being developed in various guises that deliver extraordinary strength and endurance to the wearer and have the potential to impact on military, medical, industrial and transport arenas - anywhere that personal mobility, agility and strength is required. Raytheon's progress in the field is making headline news this week thanks in part to an intriguing article appearing in the May issue of Popular Science
which makes the link between the company's ongoing research for the U.S. military and the release of the much hyped superhero flick Ironman
February 20, 2008 It has to be among the most powerful examples of the miraculous potential of modern science and technology - restoring sight to the blind. Following approval from the US FDA
last year, Second Sight Medical Products Inc has now announced that enrollment is complete for the first phase of clinical trials on a system that restores a basic level of sight to sufferers of retinal eye diseases. Enrollment at key European sites also underway. Ten subjects have been recruited for the Phase I trial of the second-generation electronic retinal implant known as The Argus II, which is capable of restoring rudimentary vision using an external camera and transmitter mounted in eyeglasses linked to a tiny array of 60 electrodes that are attached to the retina.