A 29 year old woman born without a right hand has become the first UK recipient of an innovative bionic hand derived from Formula 1 technology.
The hand, described as ‘the most anatomically accurate hand with unrivalled level of precision and natural movements’, has been designed specifically for the needs of women and teenagers.
"When I first tried the bebionic small hand it was an exciting and strange feeling,” said Nicky Ashwell from London, who tried several cosmetic prosthetic devices throughout her life before being fitted with the novel hand. “It immediately opened up so many more possibilities for me. 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.”
At a little bit less than 400 grams, the hand is almost as light as a bar of chocolate. It's smaller proportions make it anatomically suitable for female users. It is built around an accurate skeletal structure with miniaturised components designed to provide the most true-to-life movements. With 14 different precision grips, it accurately mimics the functions of a real hand.
The hand is fitted with a set of sensors triggered by the user’s muscle movements that transfer impulses to individual motors and microprocessors driving each finger.
The technology contains a system which tracks and senses each finger through its every move - mimicking the functions of a real hand.
The hand, designed by prosthetics firm Steeper, also enabled Nicky, who works as a product manager at an online fashion forecasting and trend service, to try things that had been impossible for her before – like riding a bike and lifting weights.
"Looking to the future, there's a trend of technology getting more intricate,” said Ted Varley, technical director at Steeper. "An accurate skeletal structure was firstly developed, with the complex technology then specifically developed to fit within this in order to maintain anatomical accuracy. In other myoelectric hands the technology is developed first, at the expense of the life-likeness."
It took seven years to perfect the device, which relies on advanced technology and materials known from Formula 1 and military applications including aerograde aluminium and rare earth magnets.