Another video has been released profiling Nigel Ackland showing off some of the cool things he can do with his bebionic3 prosthetic arm, part of a series of videos from manufacturer RSLSteeper. This round, Nigel responds to some ‘fan’ requests for things he can do with the hand before shifting to more pragmatic uses that most of us take for granted, like tying a shoe or taking a dog for a walk. Clearly, the more he practices with the device, the more actions he is able to accomplish.
The bebionic3 prosthetic hand is an incredible myoelectric technology that is controlled by signals sent to the user’s arm to induce muscles twitches. It’s able to perform many of the motions of a biological hand, including a multitude of grip patterns, hand positions, and sensors. While it’s awesome to see the bebionic3 in action yet again, there’s a hidden gem in the video that’s intriguing.
The previous vid showed Nigel in the kitchen cracking eggs using the prosthetic to hold the egg without breaking it. In the current video, he returns to the kitchen to show how he makes coffee, but there is a noticeable difference between the two clips. Instead of merely mimicking the motions of a biological hand, he utilizes the bebionic3’s ability to rotate completely around the wrist to grab a jug. Now he does this because the wrist can’t flex, but what he’s doing is adapting the technology to do things that are hard for a human hand to do, that is, without twisting the forearm around.
Check out the video to see for yourself:
Though it admittedly looks strange, one can’t help but imagine how this functionality could make certain tasks easier. A key step in transitioning prostheses from the world of medical support equipment to cybernetic enhancements are these little, everyday uses. They show the potential for artificial hands to be not just equivalent, but superior to a human hand. Nigel’s rotation to pick up a jug serves as a subtle example of that transition.
The world need more videos of prosthetic hand users doing everyday tasks like this, but not simply for BeBionic marketing alone. For those who have lost limbs, these videos show how this ‘smart’ hand returns to them the broad range of functions once enjoyed with their biological hand. Anyone who is suffering from a disease in which amputation is a realistic course can take some solace in the fact that advanced prosthetics are now commercially available. Finally, for anyone who is skeptical about what what living as a cybernetic organism will be like, one only needs to watch Nigel’s progression with the hand to see how greater functionalities could someday be within reach.
For the curious, bebionic has produced a number of videos highlighting specific motions of the hand. Three are included below as just a sampling of what is possible.