The world’s first bionic fingers have been launched, allowing users to touch, pick things up and point.
Touch Bionics says its ProDigits fingers are based on a system of sockets which are custom-designed to suit each individual’s specific needs. The company is developing a clinical collaborator program in North America in order to fit patients.
Each finger works as a standalone functional unit, allowing many different configurations, depending on what’s needed.
The fingers are powered in one of two different ways: either myoelectric sensors that register muscle signals from the residual finger or palm, or a pressure sensitive switch input in the form of a force sensitive resistor (FSR), or touch pad, which relies on the remnant digit or tissue surrounding the metacarpal bone to provide the necessary pressure to activate the finger.
A unique stall feature allows the device to detect when it has closed around an object, also allowing users to point single digits and configure the hand in various grip patterns.
One of the first patients is Michael Bailey, who lost three of the fingers on his left hand, plus half of the rest of his hand and five of the eight bones in his wrist, in an industrial accident.
Despite having never used a myoelectric prosthetic device before, he says he found adapting to ProDigits incredibly easy.
“Honestly, I had only put it on for five minutes and I was getting it to work just fine,” he said. “It feels like it belongs there, like it’s part of me.”
There’s a video, here.