It had always been looming somewhere on the horizon. Now it has become a dark reality: the Android apps for the i-Limb configuration stall when trying to validate their startup via "Touchbionics" web servers, and the same goes for the Windows/PC "Biosim" program, that allowed to set a lot of different relevant aspects about the i-Limb.
Since it appears that Ossur switched these registration servers all off, none of these programs run any longer.
- I cannot program my i-Limb any more
- I cannot update my i-Limb anymore
- I cannot re-configure or adjust electrode control aspects of my i-Limb any more
The thing is, this device had not been exactly cheap.
Only a few years after its purchase, this insanely overpriced device costing around 80 000 CHF now appears to be functionally bricked, with regard to the key functions that made this device stand above others.
Ossur pulled the plug on the exact promises that they would have to keep, was the company to avoid any doubt on their CE-marking.
So, what does the customer service have to say? I mailed them about this. As when I asked Touch Bionics about their gloves, they never wrote back.
If you ever consider buying a "bionic" hand now, if at all,
- make the company sign a binding contract for support of their device over a sufficient number of years
- make sure that you can get programmer-level access to the device
- or go for a device that does not lock out users to begin with
- or do not expect the device to still be functional once the company feels that they can safely discard you as user
This exemplifies a trend in upper extremity prosthetics, that large companies tend to forget relevant products. After all, Fillauer dropped Becker Mechanical Hands from their catalogue, and that is anything but a good sign of the overall direction developments are going: they get rid of sustainable devices, they get rid of supporting users of extremely expensive products too. It is as if they wanted us to disappear, too. The question is whether too much ableism abounds there, would be my first question. Feels like it.
Experiences such as this tend to alert us to the fact that this type of device may have been planned as exploit, not as support option, and thus further reduce the market. After all, Touch Bionics representatives did promise, repetitively, that they would be working on work glove solutions, around seven years ago maybe, and we really have never seen any such thing, not until now.
- Push sale of hyped up "bionic arm" companies early, not good to wait until it becomes stale and starts falling apart
- Or do not even invest there - markets are tiny, negligible; all of Switzerland may have 5 or 6 i-Limb users if at all