They're no Lee Majors, but thanks to groundbreaking work in prosthetics, some people with missing limbs are becoming (at least partially) bionic. Earlier today, sister site CNET News.com took a look at two devices that are helping get amputees back on their feet and into the kitchen, office, and even the shooting range.
Yesterday, Scottish company Touch Bionics announced its i-Limb Hand, which ushers in the next generation of prosthetic hands. The i-Limb Hand uses individual motors in each finger, so people wearing it can move fingers independently of each other. It's also got pressure sensitivity, so the hand will use a different amount of pressure when picking up a copy of the OED than it would for a Styrofoam cup, which is good news for the more delicate objects lying around the house. It's controlled in much the same way as a normal hand is--with slight variations for some tasks--with the hand responding to the same muscle movements that a normal hand would.
At $18,000, it ain't cheap. But it is pretty freakin' cool. Check out our photo gallery here to learn more about how it works, and to see it in action, peeling a banana and making hand gestures--no, not that hand gesture.
We also got word of an updated version of the C-Leg, a high-tech prosthetic leg that people are testing out at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. The new C-Leg is still a prototype, but it's being designed to improve the ability to make turns and walk backward. Researchers are also working on getting the leg's battery life up to 50 hours after a single charge, with the goal of getting soldiers who choose to do so back into the field.
Check out our photo gallery of the new C-Leg as it's being taken for a spin and how researchers in a special lab study their every move to speed recoveries.