I happened to be in Scotland last week on a trip and thought I’d drop in to TouchBionics, the company that makes my i-Limb hand, who are based there.
They very kindly let me spend the afternoon with them talking about my experiences with my hand, allowing me to play with their new i-Limb Pulse hand and touring the production area where the i-Limb hands are built.
They had a very cool display in their production area that shows an i-Limb hand exploded apart so you can see all the components that go into making it, I though it was very cool at least.
It was funny, the production area just looked like a regular office, I was expecting something more industrial I guess, but no, it’s 6 people sitting in an office environment, working on different parts of the assembly and testing process. Apparently it takes about 8 hrs or so to assembly and test a hand.
TouchBionics have just released their next generation i-Limb hand, called the Pulse and I had a chance to try it out. It’s got a number of innovations, one that gives it its name is the ability to pulse the motors in the fingers when gripping something to increase the grip strength. It seems pretty effective, I tried it by holding my own arm and as the motors pulsed for a couple of seconds you could feel the grip ratcheting down.
The hand is also programmable/configurable via bluetooth. They have software that you can install that connects to the hand real-time and allows you to adjust the way the hand works. This would allow me to program different grip patterns and the way they are triggered. So for example, I could configure it to close all fingers except the thumb and first finger, which I would then be able to open and close, useful for working on more intricate things or typing on a keyboard. I can also program different delays, triggers or sensitivity thresholds for the fingers. The hand is a fraction lighter, more slimline and much, much stronger, the knuckles of the fingers are now made from aluminium instead of plastic. All-in-all I love the developments and can’t wait to get my hand (excuse the pun) on one.