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Towards a more sustainable cosmetic covering / glove for the iLimb Revolution

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Towards a more sustainable cosmetic covering / glove for the iLimb Revolution; published January 24, 2018, 09:56; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8159.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1568476933, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Towards a more sustainable cosmetic covering / glove for the iLimb Revolution}}, month = {January},year = {2018}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8159}}


The fragility (and cost) of the gloves or coverings of the Touchbionics iLimb is legendary. No prosthetic hands smokes off expensive gloves faster.

That is in part because the relatively weak but lightweight motors will stop if the glove offers extensive resistance to the hand. So only the thinnest of gloves are given out by Touch Bionics for reasons of grip strength.

Only, as proficient user, that aspect greatly sucks.

Luckily, there is a bit of competition on the glove market - not as much as we wish to be, but some.

This reminds us of the times back in the days, when computer manufacturers issued proprietary video and monitor plugs. And when we got ourselves dip-switch setting modified video plug adapters to hook up Sun monitors on Apple or PC computers despite manufacturers' attempts to dominate device combinations. Growing into an industry that generally gives users only "their own" add-ons, consumables or other prosthetic extensions of any general kind, I was fast to see this as issue here as well.

And while the Bebionic hand's cosmetic glove allegedly may give Bebionic users a difficult time because it restricts or affects the thumb of the Bebionic too much, that glove is thick and sturdy enough to survive and yet sufficiently compliant to work with the iLimb. One will want it when one sees it, it is so good. So I got one because I wanted one when I saw one. Cosmetically, it sucks as it folds up and so on, but then, hiding one's handicap has not been approximated by the "bionic" trend currently happening in the realm of prosthetic hands.

The drawback is that the Bebionic covering's fingers are a bit too long for the iLimb. Here is how I fixed that.

The iLimb manual (that went with my sales promise, the 2014 version, with my warranty up anyway) states:

  • Do not use without an approved cover.
  • Damaged covers must be replaced or repaired by a qualified Touch Bionics technician or technical partner. 
i-limb ultra revolution user manual September 2014

Two comments:

  1. It does not state who can or cannot approve a cover. Given that I am a pro-level user and Touch Bionics are the ones making overly fragile gloves, chances are high I know better what is good for use with the hand anyway. Given that I had mailed Touch Bionics repeatedly and a number of times over the last years, asking them who approves these gloves, and never got a single reply, I guess they still are in process of trying to figure that out. That makes me the most competent person to approve (or disapprove) of any cover for my iLimb. I never obtained information of Touch Bionics that they see it any different.
  2. Secondly, only damaged covers must be replaced by a qualified Touch Bionics technician or technical partner; undamaged gloves can be swapped by anyone. 

Also, my warranty is up since two years. So I am not foregoing anything with this device.

Extending finger length for fitting cosmetic Bebionic glove / cover

I made this finger tip (3D-models, STL-Files) and one can 3D-print it however one wants (file has a Millimeter-scale for those that are into metric/imperial unit differentiation):

Here is an embedded STL-viewer to inspect and see the finger tip 3D model in the web browser:

STL Files
  • ilimb-fingertip
Color:
Render:
Capture:
Download STL

I made that finger tip so it fits the iLimb finger tip and extends it to fit into the Bebionic glove. I installed two of them on the iLimb hand, using a bit of tape. The finger tip 3D-object is not very refined. All it was designed to do was to sit precisely on the finger and extend it, not to shine in any marvellous way all by itself.

As you can see, the Bebionic glove is well reinforced with textile on its inside. It is a really nicely made cover. I just placed two of them as the others seem to be of no extra use at the moment. Where it matters is mostly from my view are the precision grip, the index finger push and the thumb.

Here two extended fingers.

Carefully, I mounted the glove.

Full Bebionic finger length now supported.

"Precision" grip.

Great achieve!

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