Just in time for the return of Star Wars, bionic hand technology takes a grand step forward. UK-based Steeper Group calls its advanced “BeBionic” artificial hand the world’s most “anatomically accurate,” with “unrivaled level of precision and natural movements.” The newest model has enabled Nicky Ashwell, a 26-year-old woman from London, to ride a bicycle for the first time in her life. Steeper Group plans for Ashwell to be the first of many who benefit from their bionic hand.
The bionic hand receives its instructions from sensors that detect muscle movements in a person’s arm. These instructions are then processed and directed to the hand’s 337 mechanical parts, which mimic natural human movements. The hand includes 14 precision grips to most effectively replicate real hand movements and an accurate skeletal system, built with technology also used in Formula 1 race cars. The finger-joint movements are enhanced by rare earth metals incorporated into the design to “enhance performance through a balance of speed and strength.” Air bubbles are built into the hand’s fingertips to give it a more realistic “fleshy” feel. Built to last, the BeBionic hand is capable of carrying up to 100 pounds.
Of her bionic experience, Ashwell, who was born without a right hand, said “when I first tried the bebionic small hand it was an exciting and strange feeling; it immediately opened up so many more possibilities for me. I realised that I had been making life challenging for myself when I didn’t need to. The movements now come easily and look natural; I keep finding myself being surprised by the little things, like being able to carry my purse while holding my boyfriend’s hand. I’ve also been able to do things never before possible like riding a bike and lifting weights.”
While the technology is impressive, it also isn’t cheap. The BeBionic hand will be sold around the world for $11,000. However, as far as advanced bionic hands go, the BeBionic’s cost is a step in the right direction.