Every week it seems that robotic prosthetics are getting so close to becoming near-perfect replacements for the real thing. Jan Scheuermann, a 52-year-old quadriplegic woman, has gained full control of a robotic arm. Not just simple commands, but truly complete control with “skill and speed almost similar to that of an able-bodied person.”
When 51 year old Chinese farmer Sun Jifa lost both his hands in a bomb accident years ago, he tried to get proper prosthetics, but they were too expensive. So using scrap metal and a whole lot of mechanical know-how, Sun built his own bionic hands so he could continue to work around the house and on his farm.
If you lose an arm or leg at some point, it’s an incredibly traumatic experience, but it can be a unique experience to create a new arm or leg with artistry and personality. That’s what the people at Bespoke Innovations aim for, and maybe one day in the future, having a beautifully carved and decorated prosthetic leg might make you the envy of the four-limbed.
Prosthetics have been used for centuries, but while the materials have changed, the holy grail is still to have prosthetics that connect to nerves on the stump to provide a seamless, lifelike experience. Prosthetics can respond to simple electrical impulses, but in the near future, a fake leg will be able to respond, walk, run and wiggle its toes just like a real leg.
With the Sole, Nike is going after the untapped market of runners who run with prosthetics instead of real, fleshy feet. The shoes fit on running blades to provide better traction and grip than the default pads, making for faster footless running.
So you lose an arm. Sounds bad at first until you realize all the brand new possibilities of things you can do with a prosthetic arm that you couldn’t do (comfortably) with a real arm. Like have a built-in dock for your smartphone so you always have it on you and you can just lift it up, tap tap tap there’s your email.