While we’re still a few years away from Ghost in the Shell-level cybernisation, losing an appendage to illness or injury is no longer a liflong condemnation to hook-handedness. And with the recent release of the beBionic 3, we’re all a step closer to being Maj Kusanagi.
Designed and built by UK firm RSL Steeper, the beBionic v3 (BB3) hand and wrist prosthetic provides trans-radial (below the elbow) amputees an unprecedented level and variety of function. The bionic hand “reads” electrical impulses from residual nerves in the stump through the skin and interprets the patient’s will, rearranging its digits into one of 14 different grips. These include power grips for shaking hands, carrying groceries, or lifting oneself from a seated position, or finesse grips for pulling out credit cards, tying shoes or holding dinnerware. What’s more, the BB3’s proportional speed control function is delicate enough to pick up an egg — then crush it with 140.1N (14kg) of vice-like force. A suite of microprocessors monitor each individual digit and can detect when an item is slipping, automatically readjusting the grip force.
The hand itself is built from carbon fibre and weighs between 550 and 600 grams, depending on size and options. It measures about 200mm from the tip of the middle finger to the base of the wrist and, aside from its egg-crushing strength, the BB3 can easily tote loads up to 45kg. It’s available in a number of colour options and comes with a flesh coloured glove, though if you just blew $US25,000-$US35,000 on one of these, why on Earth would you want to hide it?
Nigel Ackland certainly doesn’t. This former precious metal-smelter lost his right forearm six years ago to an industrial blender accident at work but was lent a BB3 for a four-month trial. “I’ve had four, four and a half years of effectively being one handed and now I’m trying to learn to get back to two handed,” Ackland told The Blaze. “It’s made me a lot happier.” And, we might add, more badass. [DVice – Nerd Reactor – CNet – beBionic]