You know? For someone who calls himself an optimist, I've certainly grown very critical into my early thirties. I think you can be both though. Hopefully optimistic for the future, while analytically combing through articles such as this one? Scouring the text for clues of marketing jargon, or over-promised revolutions that can't possibly be delivered? Those two ideals can co-exist can't they?
Right away the articles title gets me. "A Sensational Breakthrough"... Sounds fishy. Too sensationalized to be true? Then "the first bionic hand that can feel" continues the title. WOW. So the hand has sensors in it that can transmit electrical impulses at a frequency that human nerves can interpret? I shall read on!
The photo is VERY arresting. Certainly got my inner trans-humanist gear-headed heart pumping.
One doesn't need to read too far into the article before it's outrageous initial claims are brought down to earth. The hand is to be pilot tested an unnamed male patient's residual limb. The controls for the hand are to be connected to the patient's remaining nerves, with the hope that he will be able to feel some sense of touch, as well as control the hand with his mind. This, as the title of my post says, is a bit closer to a true mind controlled prosthesis. But what the article doesn't explicitly state and what I have to assume is that this mind control will still be a matter of vague concentration around the phantom limb, resulting in simple binary control of a selected number of the digits. I presume also that 100% success on touch input for this first trial will also be limited to "on or off". That is so say, it's output (and thus input in the wearers mind) will be there or not there. There will be no measure of sensitivity. The patient will simply know if the hand is making contact with something, or it's not.
The optimist in me is very hopeful that this will work! And that the signal sent from the hand will be comfortable and useful for this young man.
I'm surprised they decided to make a press release BEFORE the surgery. They must be in need of funding. (My inner critic has a bad habit of making wild assumptions.) The hand shown in the first two images of this article is GORGEOUS. However, the grainy image of what appears to be a different hand in the this third picture is suspect to me.
Either way, I'm very excited just to hear that this is even going to be attempted, and will certainly be doing more research into this company.