The best of 2014

Prosthetics

Rather than have a robotic feel, the Exo adds a more lifelike dimension to prosthetics (Ph...

Although 3D printing is revolutionizing prosthesis manufacturing, enabling fast, accessible, low cost production, aesthetics is lagging behind. The Exo-Prosthetic leg could be an alternative to the traditional "robotic" prosthesis, using 3D scanning, modeling and printing technology to create a customizable titanium exoskeleton that replicates the exact form of the amputated limb.  Read More

Derby with his new 'legs'

Derby the dog faced a challenge right from Day One. Due to a congenital deformity, he was born with very small forelegs and no front paws. This resulted in his ending up in the care of Hillsborough, New Hampshire-based dog rescue group, Peace and Paws. Fortunately, he then proceeded into the foster home of Tara Anderson. She works for 3D printing company 3D Systems (3DS), and set about using her employer's technology to make him a set of prostheses. As a result, he's now able to run for the first time.  Read More

Youbionic says its hands will cost around €1,000, a fraction of the price of current comme...

Italian start-up Youbionic has created a functional, myoelectric bionic hand using 3D printing and Arduino components. While still at prototype stage, the company says that its research will result in a prosthetic hand that costs a tenth or less than other models on the market.  Read More

For the first time, robotic prostheses controlled via implanted neuromuscular interfaces h...

Robotic prostheses have advanced greatly in the past decade, in terms of both cost and capability. Unfortunately, the standard electrode-over-skin method of control makes many of them unreliable and restricts their functionality, meaning that a number of recipients of these devices commonly reject them as a result. However, a Swedish man has recently celebrated a milestone in robotic prostheses by taking advantage of an osseointegrated (bone-anchored), thought-controlled, implant system in his daily life for more than a year and a half.  Read More

Researchers have developed a new prosthetic system that allows amputees to feel familiar s...

A new prosthetic system allows amputees to feel familiar sensations and also, somewhat unexpectedly, reduces their phantom pain. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center developed the system to reactivate areas of the brain that produce the sense of touch, but recipients of prosthetic hands reported their phantom pain subsiding almost completely after being hooked up to the system.  Read More

Lyman Connor works on his bionic hand

It seems like hardly a month goes by without news reaching us of advances in the field of bionic hands. Unfortunately, however, these high-tech prostheses can be very costly to purchase, with prices ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars. This puts them out of reach of a large number of people, such as a boy that General Electric engineer Lyman Connor met last year. Connor proceeded to design and build a low-cost bionic hand in his home workshop, which he now hopes to make available to amputees-on-a-budget .... plus he hopes to get one to the boy, if only he can locate him.  Read More

Touch Bionics has given its i-limb Ultra Revolution a number improvements to its grip func...

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.  Read More

The FDA has given approval for commercial marketing of the DEKA Arm

Prosthetics have come a long way in recent years, with many artificial limbs incorporating advanced robotic and cybernetic systems that include everything up to and including mind control. Unfortunately, for all these advances, the lack of prosthetics capable of complex motor control means that most users see them as tools rather than replacement limbs. However, that may be changing as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced approval for marketing of the DEKA Arm system, the first prosthetic arm set to hit the market that translates signals from a patient’s muscles to carry out complex tasks.  Read More

Using implantable sensors linked wirelessly to external modules, the goal is to provide li...

Many modern prosthetic limbs are so intricate that they seem like something from the sci-fi cyborg realm. Unfortunately, to the wearer these marvels still feel like lumps of dead metal and plastic. DARPA's recently announced Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program aims to change this. Using implantable sensors linked wirelessly to external modules, the goal is to provide lifelike prosthetic limbs with such a high degree of sensory feedback that they bring a sense of being part of the the wearer’s body, not something just strapped on.  Read More

DARPA's new Biological Technologies Office division aims to 'merge biology, engineering, a...

From robotics to optics and forgery prevention to solar cells, biomimicry has proven fertile ground for researchers. Recognizing nature's potential in the development of new technologies, DARPA has announced the establishment of the Biological Technologies Office (BTO), a new division that aims to "merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security."  Read More

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