We are generally depending on artifacts that take on prosthetic character. That as such makes today's people far less able-bodied - and me far less disabled, relatively - as it may appear. Conversely, we have found ways to deal with that dependency. On top, that peculiar view on comparing 'artifacts of dependency' allows for some technical features to be put side to side.
One thing that appears as riddle is this question: Why is current big corporate built prosthetics so utterly crappy? The answer is obviously - greed, sheer greed. Low development cost and usage of yester-decade and yester-century technology make revenue percentages huge. Looking at these figures makes me understand why representratives of a large German prosthetics manufacturer were said to belittle people that wear body powered technology (an attitude I find very sad given these non-disabled people earn money from - looking at the financial side - exploiting rather than living off the needs of disabled people; why would they otherwise build a show-room building on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin or sell substandard wares at dream prices?).
Also, there is a free market for a lot of assistive technology - but nor prosthetics. As soon as pblic and insurance money is the main motor for product sales, independent reviews, tests and inspections should be in order. Yet they are not.
Below: comparison of some of the technology we depend on - table.
|Prosth. arm||Glasses||Watch||Car||Computer||Cell phone|
|Deficiency||Lack of hand and part of arm.||Vision impairment.||Lack of sufficiently precise sense of time.||Lack of sufficient ability to transport material and to travel both related to speed of travel and volume of people or material transported.||Lack of ability to communicate, virtualize, network and process digital information.||Lack of ability to communicate, capture graphic information, virtualize.|
|Consequence||The deficiency causes practical and social issues. Interaction, communication, practical tasks such as pushing, carrying, grasping and manipulation are affected. Due to that, social status is affected.||Blurry vision impedes a wide range of practical as well as social issues. Depending on the situation, social status may or may not be affected.||Being late causes practical and social issues. Precision affects social status directly.||Being unflexible, not able to travel or transport items causes practical and social issues. Inavailability affects social status directly. Safety features affect health (in case of accident) and thus social status (disability; see e.g. lack of arm). Usage of gasoline and repair cost affect remaining finances of user and thus social status nad practical issues directly.||Being unable to communicate (e-mail, websites) or process virtual information (read pdf files, edit text) directly affects social status.||Being unable to communicate (e-mail, websites) or process virtual information (read pdf files, edit text) directly affects social status.|
|Luxus delivery||Luxus is conveyed by showing latest technology. This was myoelectric (1960 to 2005), now it is bionic (since 2006) which is basically the same. Luxus is explicitly not linked to functionality as these luxus prostheses are fragile, unreliable and too expensive to wreck. Workhorse attributes (i.e., ability to carry and manipulate items too small or too heavy are carefully avoided - i.e. the user thus productively communicates that s/he is neither a watchmaker nor a brick layer.||Luxus is today conveyed by invisible correction technologies. These contain contact lenses and refractive surgery. These are associated with highest social status, highest practical value for certain situations such as particular sports. But also they contain risks.||Luxus is conveyed by design and looks only. Workhorse attributes (i.e., remote control, functional design) are carefully avoided as not having to use too many functions is a sign of high status.||Luxus is conveyed by aggressive size, aggressive speed options and aggressive design.||Luxus is communicated only via external design of case or via proprietary interface design (today only Apple computer remains as luxus brand).||Luxus is communicated via external design of case or via proprietary interface design.|
|Proprietary or openly accessible standards||The parts are largely proprietary for high-end bionic products. Low-end body powered prostheses can mostly be cross fitted and be made compatible with minimal to moderate effort.||No need for inner part interoperability standards.||Just get another battery, wrist band or another watch. No further need for inner part interoperability standards.||Parts are mostly proprietary but as they are OEM produced, sometimes they are available as no-name products.||Parts are mostly OEM produced or cheaply available - as a matter of fact, cheap OEM parts in expensive design are what makes the business profitable.||Consumer servicable parts are only battery and SIM card.|
|Degree of dependency on particular product||Zero to absolutely high - depending involvement of prosthetic arm in social or productive tasks.||Zero to absolutely high - depending degree of vision impairment and activities.||Zero to absolutely high - depending involvement of watch in social or productive tasks.||Zero to absolutely high - depending involvement of car in social or productive tasks.||Zero to absolutely high - depending involvement of computer in social or productive tasks.||Zero to absolutely high - depending involvement of cell phone in social or productive tasks.|
|Does device redundancy (owning more than 1 unit) work to reduce dependency||Yes; Swiss disability insurance pays backup equipment.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes, either through owning or renting another vehicle.||Yes, but saved information is an issue.||Yes, but saved information and own identity (phone number) are issues.|
|Other means to reduce device dependency||Living without wearing prosthesis. Owning and wearing different and more reliable types of prostheses. Falling back on more stable technology.||There is no other way to reduce device dependency other than refractive surgery.||There is no other way to reduce device dependency other than other watches or clocks.||Using other means of travel or transportation.||Using typewriter, handwriting, pocket calculator, record player, etc - but there really is no other way.||There us no other way to reduce device dependency other than using alternative means of remote communication such as landline telephones, telefax or electronic communication.|
|Is there a second hand / used device market||Practically speaking, no.||Practically speaking, no.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.|
|Are there relevant test reports by magazines||No.||No.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.|
|Are there relevant test reports by independent testing authorities||No.||No.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.|
|Is it possible to fix the device yourself||Body powered prostheses: partly, yes. Myoelectric / bionic arms: No.||No.||No - even swapping battery or wrist band is better done at a watch repair shop as it requires specialized tools.||No - most work requires special know how and equipment.||Depending on know how - yes.||No.|
|Production cost estimates||Body powered hook: about 200-300 CHF; body powered hand: about 50 to 200 CHF; body powered wrist: about 50 to 250 CHF; OB bolt adapter: about 3 to 5 CHF; myoelectric hand: 80 to 200 CHF; myoelectric battery: about 40 CHF.||Frames: about 50 CHF; lenses: about 200 CHF.||Simple mechanical watch: about 5 CHF; radio controlled watch: about 20 CHF.||Small to medium sized car: 1500 to 10000 CHF||Average desktop computer: about 300 CHF||Average cell phone: 30 to 50 CHF|
|Sales price estimates||Body powered hook: about 800-1200 CHF; body powered hand: about 800 CHF; body powered wrist: about 400 to 600 CHF; bolt adapter: 80 CHF; myoelectric hand: 13'000 to 45'000 CHF; myoelectric battery: about 700 CHF.||Frames: about 400 CHF; lenses: about 700 CHF.||Simple mechanical watch: about 30 CHF; radio controlled watch: about 220 CHF.||Small to medium sized car: 15000 to 30000 CHF||Average desktop computer: about 800 CHF||Average cell phone: 150 to 500 CHF|
|Percentage of revenue estimates||Body powered hook: about 160 to 500%; body powered hand: about 300 to 1500%; body powered wrist: about 60 to 1100%; bolt adapter: about 1500 to 2500%; myoelectric hand: 6400 to 56150%; myoelectric battery: about 1600%.||Frames: about 700%; lenses: about 250%.||Simple mechanical watch: about 500%; radio controlled watch: about 1000%.||Small to medium sized car: about 50 to 1900%.||Average desktop computer: about 160%.||Average cell phone: 200 to 1500%.|
|How old is the technology we are getting sold||Body powered: about 50 years. Mxoelectric: about 10-15 years.||Frames: about 15 years; lenses: about 5 years.||Simple mechanical watch: about 15-50 years; radio controlled watch: about 10-15 years.||Small to medium sized car: about 3-8 years.||Average desktop computer: about 1-3 years.||Average cell phone: about 1-3 years.|
|Is the market free and competitive?||No.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.||Yes.|
|Remarks||Disabled people tend to be more stressed out and have a particular high degree of dependency.||-||-||-||-||-|