The First App-Controlled Bionic Hand

Wearers can push one button for complex movements like right-clicking a mouse and picking up a pen.
Murdoch Ferguson / Ferguson Imaging

A new bionic hand is the first to come with app control, allowing users to access complicated motion patterns—like the grip needed to play pool or right-click a mouse—with a single touchscreen tap.

The i-Limb Ultra Revolution, which has four individually powered fingers and a fully rotating thumb, can also be controlled directly by muscle signals from the wearer. The Biosim app works on the iPhone and the iPod Touch and comes with 24 preset motions and gestures, according to creator Touch Bionics. It also lets users create groups of grip patterns; for example, a wearer might create a “work” group that includes movements for mouse-clicking, paper-holding, and typing.

Because certain motions, like the three-finger tripod needed to pick up a pen, are difficult to master, the one-touch hand commands are a very useful addition to muscle-signal control. The app also comes with a training mode and a diagnostic mode to quickly check if the hand is functioning properly.