Two steps closer to a $6 million man
Breakthroughs in prosthetics make a leg that could get soldiers back in the field and a hand that can do just about anything.
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.