First bionic finger unveiled

What is claimed to be the world’s first bionic finger has been unveiled by a Scottish high-tech prosthetic company.

Touch Bionics is marketing the motor-powered system, dubbed Pro-Digits, for patients with missing fingers due to congenital anomalies or amputation from a traumatic incident or medical condition.

The company claims that the amputee population that can benefit from Pro-Digits is considerable, estimating it around 52,000 in the EU and 1.2 million worldwide.

The Pro-Digit bionic finger is able to bend, touch, pick up and point in a way that reflects the function of a natural hand.

There are two control strategies that can be employed to power Pro-Digits: either myoelectric sensors that register muscle signals from the residual finger or palm, or a pressure-sensitive switch input in the form of a force-sensitive resistor (FSR) or touch pad that relies on the remnant digit or tissue surrounding the metacarpal bone to provide the necessary pressure to activate the finger.

A stall feature allows the device to detect when it has closed around an object, allowing users to point single digits and configure the hand in various grip patterns.

Each prosthetic is built uniquely and the sockets are custom designed and fabricated by clinicians to suit each individual’s specific needs.

The customised nature of each Pro-Digits fitting has led Touch Bionics to develop a clinical-collaborator programme in North America that will see the company partner with practitioners in order to fit patients. Touch Bionics has established relationships and distribution channels in over 40 countries to support the roll out of Pro-Digits, which was supported by the Centre of Excellence in Livingston, Scotland.

Touch Bionics is offering a range of coverings for Pro-Digits, ranging from a high-tech clear and black robotic skins to the ‘Livingskin’ option, which is a high-definition silicone used to provide a human-like restoration to the combined limb and prosthesis.