Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Insane and Exciting Future of the Bionic Body

From “i-limbs” to artificial organs, advances in technology have led to an explosion of innovation in the increasingly critical field of prosthetics.

Engineers created a “robot” called the Bionic Man—using prosthetic limbs and artificial organs worth $1 million—to showcase how much of the human body can now be rebuilt with metal, plastic and circuitry.

Bertolt Meyer pulls off his left forearm and gives it to me. It’s smooth and black, and the hand has a clear silicone cover, like an iPhone case. Beneath the rubbery skin are skeletal robotic fingers of the sort you might see in a sci-fi movie—the “cool factor,” Meyer calls it.

I hold the arm in my hand. “It’s pretty light,” I say. “Yes, only a couple of pounds,” he responds.

I try not to stare at the stump where his arm should be. Meyer explains how his prosthetic limb works. The device is held on by suction. A silicone sheath on the stump helps create a tight seal around the limb. “It needs to be comfortable and snug at the same time,” he says.

“Can I touch it?” I ask. “Go ahead,” he says. I run my hand along the sticky silicone and it helps dispel my unease—the stump may look strange, but the arm feels strong and healthy.

For the rest of the story: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ideas-innovations/The-Insane-and-Exciting-Future-of-the-Bionic-Body-220574691.html?c=y&story=fullstory#SEP13_E01_Prosthetics_631x473.jpg

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