The app’s developer, Touch Bionics, unveiled the groundbreaking application, along with their latest prosthetic hand, in April of this year.
The hand’s artificial thumb is controlled by signals from the users arm muscles, which are interpreted by the hand’s internal systems. However, in a world first, it can also be controlled, very simply, via the use of the new app.
The app features an array of preset positions that can be selected by the user tapping the screen with her/his thumb. When a position is selected, the prosthesis can react instantly, changing to ‘thumbs up’, ‘just a little bit’ or ‘OK’ positions easily. The app is not limited to simple positions, however, and more complicated functions, such as holding objects, handling documents and even typing, are featured as preset options.
In addition to the app, the bionic hand also features improved dexterity due to the presence of new extra-sensitive fingertip electrodes. In addition, the thumb can now move into 24 separate positions, made possible either by the user or the app.
The Bionic Touch app configures the hand positions into playlist-like folders such as ‘work’, which feature all hand positions regularly used at work (typing, using a mouse etc), so that the positions are within easy reach of the user.
The app itself also features training modes designed to help people learn to use it quickly and easily as well as diagnostic features that can interact with the hand itself and troubleshoot any possible problems.
The app has already received a measure of positive feedback from users, Bertolt Meyer, who uses the new hand, was quoted by ‘New Scientist’ as saying, "Powered thumb rotation, combined with the mobile app and quick access to all these new grips, gives me natural hand function that I never imagined would be possible,"
Learning to use a prosthetic limb is an extremely painful and frustrating process, but this app may just make the process a tiny bit easier for those who use it.