A new artificial human arm is moving prosthetics one step closer to true bionics

The artificial arm can restore near-full range of motion and is comfortable all day long.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Prosthetics allow amputees to regain function after the loss of a limb. 

But not all prosthetics are created equal!

On Wednesday, IE spoke with CEO Tyler Hayes of startup Atom Limbs which is currently making the "world's first truly artificial human arm: the Atom Touch."

An artificial arm

Hayes explained what the Atom Touch is all about and what makes it so unique.

"The Atom Touch is what we call an artificial arm. It will act much like a regular arm, restore a near-full range of motion, enable individual finger control, be comfortable to wear all day, restore a basic sense of touch, and be considerably more affordable than leading prosthetics today," claimed Hayes. 

"The Atom Touch connects to a wearable device we call the cuff, which is itself connected to a shirt. These have a built-in brain-to-computer interface that detects signals from the user's body — including their residual limb —  to control it. The arm is non-invasive and truly wearable." 

Hayes explained that his team's long-term goal was for the artificial arm to act exactly like a real arm. "Of course, it's not quite to that level yet. We don't invasively link directly to your nervous system, though that may be necessary to restore full sensation, for example, down the road," he added.

An arm made for all

When asked who would be able to use Atom Touch, Hayes explained it this way: 

"Anyone who has an arm amputation will be able to use the Atom Touch. It is designed to be non-invasive and easy to take on and off as needed. It is designed to offer human-level dexterity, weight, a full range of motion, and force generation."

The inspiration behind the project

Hayes also revealed why he was inspired to create Atom Limbs. "Atom Limbs' origins come from reading about the failings of healthcare for people with limb loss within the system. Only one in five people with arm loss choose to wear a prosthetic because the products available are of such poor quality and usability that they do more harm than good. In a world where we have reusable rockets and electric cars, this seems ridiculous. So Atom Limbs was born to give the 65 million-plus limb-different people their limbs back, and revolutionize the $800B+ physical disability industry," explained Hayes.

A new artificial human arm is moving prosthetics one step closer to true bionics
Source: Courtesy of Atom Limbs

A broken industry

Through his efforts, Hayes hopes to fix the broken prosthetic industry.  

"The prosthetics industry is broken. If we look at the number of limb-different people who wear one, we see that only one in five do so, citing a lack of use and even pain when using them. These transitional prosthetics make some even feel more disabled," Hayes explained.

"This is because even leading prosthetics are basically just a hook that looks like a hand. They're about as far from intuitive as one can get. Users can't move fingers, they're limited to 10 preset "grips", can't reach above their head, can't move joints at the same time, get no sense of touch, develop musculoskeletal issues — the list goes on. This simply isn't good enough. Through modern robotics, we are able to truly revolutionize the physical disability industry and for the first time provide artificial limbs that add real value to people's lives, not hinder them" he added.

Atom Touch will be available for testing in the firm's Preview Program in Q2 this year and Atom Limbs is aiming to release the final product in 2023. For more impressive prosthetics, read this list.

 Prosthetics seems to be the best solution for amputees until we unlock our potential to grow a new limb.

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