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Bionic hand changes lives of New Zealand amputees

Image Photo Credit NZ Herald
Image Photo: Credit: NZ Herald

A new task at hand is laid for the Kiwi designers behind a world-leading bionic hand according to a recent report. They are now working on creating a much smaller version of it for children.

The designers from Christchurch, New Zealand are finalists at the Best Design Awards for their innovative Taska bionic hand.

The current model is being improved on as the team is working on producing sizes of the innovation for women and children.

The bionic hand has the strength to crush a tennis ball but it is delicate enough to grasp an egg without breaking its shell.

Worth NZ$ 35,000, the hand has a tiny motor, a gearbox and a clutch for each finger, and two for its thumb. Thousands of hours have been spent on perfecting the bionic hand.

Creating the smaller-sized hands will be more challenging since there will be a lot more that would go into them. The smaller scale brings in a significant technical challenge.

If the project becomes successful, the smaller hand would be considered life-changing and a world-first for child amputees around the world.

New Zealanders are always the first to benefit from projects that release prototypes and improvements locally.

Observations were made on the hand while it was being used by locals. Feedbacks were also gathered as to what the hand can and cannot do.

A Dunedin sculptor has one of the most advanced versions of the Taska hands. He lost his hand six years ago in an accident wherein he put his arm in a shredding machine, believing that it was turned off.

The sculptor has had a number of prosthetics since the accident but it was only the Taska bionic hand, with its robotic sensors, that allowed him to do “nearly everything”.

The use of the hand has been life-changing as it aids him in his sculpting. The hand will get dusty and dirty but all the grime can be washed off as the hand is completely waterproof.

The robotic sensors are activated by the muscles in the arm. Thus, if the muscles are tensed, it will do one thing and if the muscles are flexed, the hand will change its position.

The version of the Taska hand that was entered in the Best Awards is a completely waterproof hand that allows the user to wash a car and then sit down and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer and even eat a steak with a knife and fork.

It is Bluetooth-enabled, has the ability to shake hands at various pressures and has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 10 hours.

Similar to a hand that is made of flesh and bone, the bionic hand can move precisely and make all kinds of different gestures.

The Best Design Awards are the largest in Australasia and will announce their winners in front of a crowd of 1000 designers at the Viaduct Events Centre on 22 September 2018.

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