When you're born without a hand, your options for getting hold of an artificial prosthesis are rather limited. If you're rich enough, you could pay for a robotic model with your own cash, or you could take the cheap option and get a hook.
Neither of these options was good enough for British teenager Matthew James, however. The 14-year-old, born without a hand, wrote a letter to Mercedes F1 team boss Ross Brawn and asked nicely if they'd mind terribly giving him £35,000 to pay for an i-Limb Pulse -- one of the world's most advanced bionic hands. In exchange, he promised to provide the F1 team space on the hand to advertise its wares, the BBC reports.
Serial world championship winner Brawn, being the extremely business-savvy man that he is, saw the benefit of having such high-profile advertising space (not to mention the benefit of a cyborg being in his eternal debt) and wrote back with a ringing "yes".
"Matthew's letter to the team was very touching," the F1 boss said. Looking closely at the i-Limb Pulse, we realised how much our technologies in Formula One had in common with those used to create this cutting-edge prosthetic limb." The two companies agreed to share information on the condition Matthew got a free hand, so to speak.
An understandably elated Matthew commented, "It is just amazing. My old artificial hand had a pretty basic open-close mechanism similar to a clamp, but with this one I can do everything. It also looks really cool -- the outer-shell is see-through so you can actually see the mechanics working. They are even going to put a little Mercedes badge on the wrist."
The i-Limb Pulse works using two electrodes in the wrist area, which respond to muscle signals, moving the motor-controlled fingers into a range of positions. With it, users are able to type on a keyboard, tie their shoe laces, grip a pen and write and catch a ball.
Watch a video of the i-Limb Pulse in action below.