FLEX AND CLICK

The wearable that lets amputees swipe and scroll using their muscles

Imagine trying to scroll, swipe, or use a mouse with a prosthetic hand.

Digital devices aren’t designed for those who have had a hand amputation and manipulating programs and web browsers is cumbersome when you have only the limited movement of a prosthetic. However, a new wearable called Shortcut may revolutionize how amputees use computers thanks to Berlin-based designers David Kaltenbach, Lucas Rex, and Maximilian Mahal.

The best state-of-the-art prosthetics have sensors that read muscle movements in the limb. Those signals then trigger the motors in the prosthetic—users learn, over time, how to control the prosthetic using the same muscles used to control a biological hand.

Shortcut uses similar technology to help hand amputees control computers with speed and agility. You put it on the wrist of the hand that has the prosthetic, and signals from the limb muscles are sent wirelessly to the wearable, which translates those into movement on a computer screen. For instance, the same muscle movement that makes an OK-sign with the prosthetic thumb and pointer finger will create a left click on the mouse.

According to the designers, on average 15 people a day lose their hands in Germany. Most are blue collar workers using heavy machinery, and it’s often their stronger hand, which also tends to be a person’s mouse hand.

Watch the video to see how Shortcut works and the catalogue of gestures the designers have built into the wearable.

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