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Practice for your bionic hand with Virtu-limb

Touch Bionics introduces a prosthesis simulator as well as upgrades to its i-Limb bionic hand.

Rock, paper, scissors, anyone? Touch Bionics

In the future, we'll all have cyborg bodies with replaceable parts, right? The transition to immortality, though, may take some getting used to. Touch Bionics has a handy new tool to help us practice.

The Scottish maker of the i-Limb Pulse bionic hand is showing off its new Virtu-limb, a tool it describes as "a groundbreaking simulation and training product for myoelectric upper limb prostheses."

Showcased at this week's American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly in Las Vegas, the Virtu-limb consists of electrodes that pick up electrical signals in arm muscles and a dock for a prosthetic hand that links wirelessly to a PC. It can also be used without the prosthesis.

When a user flexes his or her muscles, the movements are reproduced in a virtual 3D hand on a screen, or in a real i-Limb Pulse, which the company recently renamed i-Limb Ultra.

Clinicians can then determine the best muscle locations for a prosthesis. The Virtu-limb can also be used to train patients on how to use the i-Limb and its features, as well as demonstrate the artificial hand to prospective users.

The i-Limb Ultra's new features include variable grip strength for each digit, customizable gestures, upgraded control software, and an automatic function in which the hand returns to a natural position following inactivity.

I have yet to see an i-Limb user flip the bird, but it would be fun.