4 minute read
Prosthetics was originally developed to ease the living of people with disabilities. Development of technology evoked a novel époque of bionics that goes beyond restoring body functioning. Humanization of animals and adding extra limbs are the revolutionary trends triggered by arising needs and high-tech progress. How far can science and medicine progress in rethinking human design?
Rethinking Human Design
The prosthetics industry is on its rise with the expected growth of 5.4% by 2024, and people can forget about disabilities. The initial structure of the body is no longer accepted as a status quo – a human can be in any form. Integration of human and robotics portrayed before in science-fiction books is now a reality. Dani Clode, a product designer from New Zealand, created a concept of the third thumb. The additional prosthetic finger is functional and enables fully dynamic movement. This brave project challenges the common understanding of prosthetics – people should consider bionics and prosthetics as irreplaceable additives to their bodies.
The robotization of human body goes even further – University of Tokyo developed a “Metalimbs” project introduces an extra pair of arms to be worn as a backpack. The movement of these limbs is controlled by the actual legs. Thus, the supernumerary robotic limbs is another innovation inspired by superhero universe. These extra arms can move independently from the human body, allowing performing complex tasks, and increasing the safety of the work environment. “Metalimbs” and supernumerary robotic limbs are of high importance in the hazardous industries where work cannot be fully replaced by robots – aircraft industry is an example. Assembling airplanes is a tiring process, but it cannot be substituted by autonomous machines – adding extra arms enhances safety and permits human to perform difficult tasks without no effect on their health. Creating a bionics man will give even more opportunities to the human body and make some manufacturing processes efficient. Humanity is close to mastering this innovation with a current possibility to rebuilt 50% of the human body. Expanding human capabilities is a key value for bionics and one of the approaches to increase work productivity on assembly line starting the era of robot-human assimilation where prosthetics are utilized to enhance human features.
The Rise of Bionics
The usage of bionics is rather common – for example, 45,000 people use prosthetic limbs in England solely. There are around 5 million amputees worldwide. Despite a variety of tech developments, many amputees fail to overcome their physical disability – 35% of them suffer from depression. Companies like Open Bionics make customized prosthetics utilizing 3-D printing technology. This brand introduces new perception to disability where this device is a superpower and unique feature. With Hero’s arm, each user can live their lives to the full and embrace the exclusivity of its customized design. Open Bionics now offers a variety of prosthetic arms inspired by popular characters like Marvel’s Iron Man and Disney’s Frozen and Star Wars. “Your limb, your rules” becomes a new motto of prosthetics – and Hero’s arm goes beyond its functional usage and becomes a part of human identity. Meanwhile, 3-D printing resolves the issue of their affordability, adds a spark of joy with its exceptional and customized design, and drastically improves the psychological condition of amputees.
Humanization of Animals
The evolution of prosthetics also covers animals, as half of the American population owns pets. Orthopets is one of the companies specializing in animal prosthetics, and the firm creates customized devices for its furry customers. 3-D printing helps fill every need of pets and makes these prosthetics affordable to households with different incomes. Thus, these solutions are not limited to pets but now also cover wild animals. Miamoto, a celebrity dentist from Brazil, recreated a beak of a goose and gave this bird a second chance. Rising usage of bionics for animals derives a new humanization trend where all animals are treated equally, and their disabilities are fixed. This raises demands for animal prosthetics and redefines the human intervention into nature. Prosthetics become a way for humans to have a positive impact on the environment and take advantage of bionics to help their pets.
The Future of Prosthetics
Previous examples like Orthopetz, Open Bionics, and Metalimbs showed that bionic prosthetics are on its rise. 2.6 million has limb loss, and 3.6 million people in the US solely are projected to have limb amputation by 2050. High demands, 22% increase in car accidents, tech developments, and new consumer needs such customizable products are the definers of its growth with 9.5% rate by 2027. The prosthetics market will continue its growth and reach $2,192.5 million in 2023 globally. The era of bionics is here and enters into the human world by enhancing human physical features and embracing disabilities.