All thumbs move, but this one does at the tap of the mobile screen. We’re not talking of a futuristic sci-fi movie, but of recent advances in robotic technology that make it possible for hand amputees to write and tie shoelaces using iPhone- and iPad-compatible software that control their robotic hands.
One of the 15 people in India who’ve already got an i-limb is Madan Singh, a 45-year-old from Punjab, who lost his left hand in a road accident.
“For nearly five years, I found nothing satisfactory to replace my lost hand. There were prosthesis available but those were meant to perform only basic functions.
The i-limb feels like my hand is back to near normal, just at the tap of a mobile screen,” said Singh, who has no regrets paying Rs 18 lakh for it, including the cost of an iPhone or an iPad.
All four fingers and the thumb are fitted with highly sensitive in-built motor sensors that, apart from functioning independently, also work together using a free iOS application, biosim.
“With just a tap on your iPhone or iPad screen, all 24 features can be accessed in a pack of six, including pinch, cylindrical and spherical grasp,” said Ian Stevens, CEO, Touch Bionics.
Medical apps are among the fastest growing segments in the iOS and Android platforms, starting with simpler apps for laypersons that track blood pressure, pulse rate, cholesterol and blood sugar levels to operating complex diagnostic tests and devices.
Recently, British scientists announced that while being used to operate on a cancer tumour, a new device called iKnife can differentiate between the healthy and malignant cells within a few seconds. It works by matching its readings during surgery to the reference library to determine the type of tissue.
“These better communication tools are really changing the face of the doctor-patient relationship and life has got a lot easier for both,” says Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director, Apollo Hospitals.
Smartphones can also allow patients to send videos of symptoms and test results to doctors. “For doctors also, there are some great apps that provide easy reference. It also helps in asking for multiple opinions on a particular case from specialists across the world in a matter of few hours as we are all part of common groups,” Dr Sibal added.
For medical students, apps come in handy in getting live images of procedures. The students feel these apps do a better job as they get to see procedures rather than merely reading.