Iron Man isn't the only one 3D-printing artificial limbs these days. But unlike the mechanical hand delivered by Robert Downey Jr, this recently unveiled prosthetic from Japanese manufacturer Exiii costs just $300 and leverages your mobile device's computing power to act just like the real thing. The Ghost in the Shell future we've between waiting for came took a step closer to reality.
The Handiii bionic limb's exterior is completely 3D-printed. This not only keeps each unit's initial production costs low (it's already dropped $50 since we last saw it at Maker Faire Tokyo), the technique also makes fabricating replacement parts faster and easier as well. But despite its bargain-basement price, the Handiii is packed with electronics. An EMG sensor detects electrical impulses emanating from the user's remaining limb stump and converts those impulses into physical movement through a series of servos. What's more, it connects wirelessly to your cell phone or tablet using the mobile device's CPU to interpret these signals and initiate movement.
Unfortunately, there's already a waiting list for these handy devices, partly due to a backlog of existing orders. Its creators are also focusing on getting these arms into the hands of academic and industrial researchers -- potentially as an open-source platform -- before beginning deliveries to the general public.