Only a decade ago, bionic limbs were associated with science fiction. The technology has made some breakthroughs in the past couple of years and it is fast becoming a reality. An Italian robotics company ‘ Youbionic’ is taking the next step, and is releasing a 3D printed appendage consisting of two bionic hands.
Federico Ciccarese designed the device. It is made from nylon dust and consists of an Arduino micro-controller, actuators, and three electrodes that are activated by nerve impulses in the same way that muscles move when neurons send signals from our brains.
“There’s electricity in all muscles of our body,” Youbionic CEO Federico Ciccarese told Digital Trends. “When the brain sends an impulse to the muscle, the sensor reads it and translates it into a number proportional to the contraction and then sends this message to the microcontroller.”
All the previous prototypes were single-handed and were designed to be used by amputees. As the design was perfected, they started to learn more about its working, they took the device one step further and used it as a form of human augmentation. This is also known as bio-hacking.
“The tech companies are working to increase our mind. We’re trying to increase our body,” the Youbionic website states, “We are taking the first steps to build devices that work by supporting our native ability to obtain extraordinary abilities.”
The video posted on the Youbionic website shows the bionic hands in action. Once attached to the human hand, the control is split between the fingers. The pointer and middle fingers control one hand whereas the ring and pinky finger move the other hand. You can see the video here:
“This is the first wearable robotic devices that will evolve the human race in a something new, to turn the Native Human to Augmented Human,” Youbionic claims.
Even though the bionic hands look really cool, their functionality is limited and it will most probably be used by amputees like the prior models. The strength of the device is still unknown but it will be limited as there is no reinforcement for the hands and all the strain will fall on the user’s wrist. The device costs $2150 and we will probably know more once it has been used by a number of people, and their reviews come in.