You Can Test Drive a Bionic Hand Without Actually Losing Your Hand

Bionics are an amazing technology that most of us will hopefully never have to use. But being able to move a robot hand with your brain is incredibly cool, and Touch Bionics' new Virtu-LIMB lets you try a bionic hand without "installing" it.

Virtu-limb works with either the i-LIMB Ultra—the update to the really awesome i-LIMB—or with some custom software that renders the hand's actions in real time. It works by gathering the same myoelectric signals that the bionic limb would normally gather from a patient, but routing it through a computer instead of a surgically attached limb.

The test drive feature has a few uses beyond just being a cool toy for nerdboys playing Terminator. It's good for helping determine which muscles are best suited to sending the prostheses myoelectric signals and helping to train patients to control muscle signals. And it can also be used by prospective patients before having the limb added. It's absolutely a really great technology, but I'm just wondering how long until some intrepid nerd tries it out and decides to replace a fully functional hand. [Touch Bionics via Engadget, CNET]