Prosthetics have come a long way over the past few years, but we're still a long way off from the Deus Ex-style future where they're just like the real thing. Thankfully the power of 3D-printing is letting them take another few steps forward.
Using a computer mouse with a prosthetic hand can be a challenge, but researchers have just created a set of 3d-printed bands that can turn the hand itself into a mouse - making the whole process easier. Dubbed 'Shortcut', the system uses two bands (one on the wrist and another on the arm) and lets prosthetic users click on as much as they like.
So how does this work? The main part of this is the 3D-printed band that goes around the wrist, strapping a small optical sensor to the underside of the users wrist. Moving the sensor around, much like you would a regular mouse, moves the cursor around on screen. Clicking, on the other hand, is a little bit more difficult.
Actually clicking the 'mouse' requires a second band further up the arm, which is equipped with Myo gesture sensors that recognise muscle activity. Even without a hand, the arm is still capable of performing so-called 'phantom gestures' that the Myo band can pick up on. This means the user can click as if they had a real hand, and the Myo band will see that and make it happen on-screen.
Shortcut is still in the prototype stages, utilising less-than convenient wired connections and commercial Myo bands. While there's still some work that needs to be done before this becomes a real product people can buy, it offers a bit more hope to people with prosthetics and what they'll be able to do in the future. [3Ders via Slashgear]