Teen suddenly much cooler with new bionic hand

14-year-old Matthew James was born without a left hand, but a Formula One team helped him go bionic with an i-Limb Pulse.

Mercedes GP Petronas

What do you do if you want to upgrade your pathetic meatsack of a body and become a cyborg? If you're Matthew James, a 14-year-old from Britain's Berkshire, you write a letter and end up with a bionic hand.

Born without a left hand, James became enamored of the i-Limb Pulse from Scotland's Touch Bionics, but his family couldn't afford the roughly $48,000 price tag.

After the head of Formula One racing team Mercedes GP Petronas visited his school, James got up the chutzpah to write a letter to the organization's Ross Brawn asking for help in getting an i-Limb Pulse. He suggested the team sponsor what would be a cybernetic part of his body.

Brawn agreed to help, but struck a technology-sharing deal with Touch Bionics in which most of the fee would be waived. Now James has a new hand.

The i-Limb Pulse is far more sophisticated than James' previous prosthesis. Not only can its aluminum construction bear 200-pound loads , it picks up fain electrical impulses on the skin's surface to activate its individually powered digits.

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As seen in the video below, users can select pointing and gripping finger positions via the hand's Bluetooth link to software called MyBioSim. They can also fully rotate the hand all the way around the wrist to freak people out.

With his new i-Limb, James can already open jars and carry cups of tea (the latter being a crucial survival skill in Britain).

"Unfortunately there's one downside to it, I'm having to do more chores than I used to," he told BBC News.

You can help James and his family raise the 10,000 pounds ($16,300) needed to pay for the reduced cost of the hand at his site.


 

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