As advanced as prosthetics have become, cybernetic limbs are often still far from perfect solutions for wearers. They can be cumbersome, users have complained, sometimes even presenting more challenges than they correct.
A new, smarter prosthetic aims to help alleviate some of the most common problems.
Bionics company Esper was recently granted FDA approval for its Esper Hand, a prosthetic designed to learn — and thus, improve — over time as it’s worn.
It has sensors in both the stump socket and within the hand component, and picks up on individual muscles’ movements as opposed to those of just the broader muscle groups.
The Esper Hand made its debut at CES 2022 and the company says it’s ready to start taking customers in the U.S. It works with Esper’s Cloud Program to keep it continually fed with new and improving data, bolstered by machine-learning.
One of its biggest promises is that it can recognize different usage situations and adjust its grip accordingly. Most notably, the videos of it in action show the wearer, Nika Chorna, using Esper as the leading hand for everyday actions like cutting food, opening foil packaging, zipping up a makeup pouch, and brushing hair.
The company wouldn’t share specific pricing details with Input, but says the cost of Esper Hand would be fully covered by insurance via reimbursements for U.S. users. (In reality, it likely isn’t that simple).
Users also have to be mindful not to get it wet — for now, at least. The company recommends using a silicon glove when dealing with water or liquids, and says it’s currently trying to get IP 67 rating for water and dust protection. It expects this to happen before the end of the year.