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
At first, first on September 29, I had mailed their customer service and posted this and about this, and nothing happened. I asked my prosthetist and he had no update on PC Biosim softwares or Android device control as previously installed.
Later, I e-mailed their customer service again, and again.
Then, I received an indication that the customer service of Ossur did not want to converse with me over their shortcomings in that matter at all. I was to contact my prosthetist, who then would have to clarify this matter.
They also appeared to not want to send me any developer kit for software, or anything like that.
So I contacted my prosthetist (again).
It was, apparently / allegedly, then decided, that Ossur could theoretically send me an iPod with Apple iOS software as their latest "app" would allow at least some restricted software control of the iLimb.
However subsequently, I got a phone call again from my prosthetist that Ossur did not know whether the new Apple iOS "app" would actually work with my "old" iLimb model. And whether they should send me that device at all. So we encouraged them to send this anyway.
But after ages, the device finally made it here, and my prosthetist forwarded me Ossur's replacement for their switched off "Biosim" PC softwares and Android program.
- I charged the iPod.
- I installed the latest iOS on it.
- I installed Touch Bionics' "my iLimb" and "biosim" softwares from the "App store"; the "my iLimb" program is for the user and the "biosim" for the technician apparently.
- I ran the "biosim" program and registered it with my e-mail address.
- The software - just as the PC "Biosim" program beforehand - allows to adjust signal levels and control mode which seems to be relevant again.
- And so I also ran the "health check".
The hand seems OK so far, only after a few years it seems like the battery could be replaced at some stage.
So I removed the inner socket to get to the battery specifications. There, we have for this iLimb Revolution, a rechargeable Li-ion polymer battery, model 553559, 7,4 Volts, 1300 mAh (9,62 Wh), by Shenzhen UFO Source Energy Battery Technology Co., Ltd., China.
So, if ever you buy a used / "second hand" iLimb, check for health check, make sure the battery is not too old, and definitely get the seller to include a current iPod or other Apple iOS-capable device to run the latest "app" software for device control. The older PC-software USB key etc. will not work any more.