Most powered prosthetic hands that exist today (and virtually all that are available to the general public) read the user’s motor intentions from electrodes placed on the skin over the end of severed nerve. They also rarely provide sensory feedback of any kind to the user, and are therefore inherently one-way prosthesis as opposed to true ‘cybernetic’ attachments which integrate themselves into the normal loop of information from the brain to the body and backThe prosthetic limb, which weighs about the same as a bar of chocolate (around 390 g) and is made from aerograde aluminium and rare Earth magnets, built around an accurate skeletal structure with small proportions designed to fit teenagers and women.
prosthetic hand, which uses military and Formula 1 technology, is a veritable breakthrough in replacement bionic limbs, delivering “unrivalled level of precision and natural movements”, made possible by as many as 14 different precision grips.
That’s thanks to the 337 discrete mechanical parts that allow the prosthetic to function in a natural and realistic way.
“We leaned on a number of different industries to make the BeBionic hand. The knuckle mechanisms were created using a cutting technique used on F1 car chassis. And some of the tiny motors that drive the fingers and thumb are used on missiles,”
The movements now come easily and look natural.
The hand can withstand up to 45 kg in weight and is precise enough to hold a wine glass without breaking it.
“The stem of a wine glass is an example of something bionic hands could not hold before. Now the skeletal structure means that the hand wraps around that and things like soft fruit.
This latest model took around 1 million pounds, 18 months and 25 designers to make.
In terms of the production process, in order to maintain anatomical accuracy, the first element to be developed was the skeletal structure, which was then equipped with the intricate electronics. “In other myoelectric hands the technology is developed first, at the expense of the life-likeness.”
The BeBionic uses sensors triggered by Ashwell’s muscle movements to activate motion. Movements are then coordinated by powerful microprocessors and individual motors in each finger.
Rather unsurprisingly, precision-made, multi-joint robotic limbs like this are very expensive and may cost up to $30,000.00 for a hand or an almost astronomically-steep $100,000.00 for a full arm.