Robotic bionic prosthetic arm

The pic above isn’t a still from a futuristic flick or a flight of CGI fancy from the SyFy channel. This is Nigel Ackland, a real-life man of flesh and blood… and carbon fiber and aluminum.

When Ackland lost the lower part of his arm in a smelting accident six years ago, the idea of his using two hands again was like a fantasy. Sure, prosthetics have made amazing advances over the years, but there are certain activities that still elude these artificial limbs. But this new “Terminator” arm, as he puts it, is a highly sensitive version that features a range of 14 individual grips. Thanks to RSLSteepe and its bebionic3 myoelectric hand, Ackland can now tie his shoes, crack eggs, and even use a keyboard and mouse. It’s all controlled by the user’s upper arm, where muscle flexes can trigger the limb.

Robotic bionic prosthetic arm2

Robotic bionic prosthetic arm3

Although the prosthetic comes with a skin-like flesh-colored covering, Ackland admits that he rocks the unfettered Cyborg style on occasion. And he digs the fact that onlookers often ask him about his hi-tech arm. Too bad the appreciation might be short-lived — he’s only testing it for now, along with six others in the U.K. After four months, they have to give it back. That’s not surprising, considering it costs as much as $40,000 per patient.

As with all technology, the cost could decrease over time, though. With the bebionic3 due for release soon, we’ve got our fingers-crossed that the adoption rate will be healthy and that Moore’s law kicks in for this category too.

[Via New York Daily News]

Correction: The subject’s name is Nigel Ackland, not Auckland as previously written.