Some will refer to the Atom Touch as the commercial version of the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) developed by John Hopkins University. But it is more than that, with notable enhancements in durability, artificial intelligence, and sensory feedback.
What’s On This Page?
- A Quick Look at the Atom Touch
- Grip Patterns & Control System
- Thumb Rotation
- Proportional Speed Control
- Sensory Feedback
- Wrist & Elbow Design
- Lift Capacity & Strength
- Water and Dust Resistance
- Glove Options
- User Software
- Suitability for Both Above- and Below-the-Elbow Solutions
- User Feedback Survey & Results
- Considerations Before Buying an Atom Touch
- Related Information
A Quick Look at the Atom Touch
The Atom Touch is not yet ready for its official video debut but the following video shows its predecessor, the MPL, toward its later stages of development:
For the feature descriptions that follow, please note that some are incomplete mainly because the Touch is still in development. However, we are in periodic communication with the company that makes the Touch (Atom Limbs) and will update this article whenever new information becomes available.
Grip Patterns & Control System
Atom Limbs is promising near-natural movement for the Atom Touch:
Even more exciting, they’re offering true thought control over their bionic limb, with the same 26 degrees-of-freedom available with natural limbs including intuitive control over individual finger movements! Here is a very short example of this:
This goes beyond existing pattern recognition technologies, which are increasingly being used as advanced control systems for bionic arms/hands. For example, individual finger control means that the hand can form an unlimited number of grips, not just a pre-defined set of grips, as is the case with most bionic hands.
Only BrainRobotics’ 8-channel hand promises anything similar, and they, like the Atom Touch, are not yet commercially available.
Advanced sensory feedback further enhances Touch’s control system. With 200 sensors measuring contact, force, position, and velocity, both users and Touch’s artificial intelligence system can utilize this information to refine the limb’s movement.
Of course, this all sounds fantastic, and no one will be happier than us if Atom Limbs brings these remarkable capabilities to market. But a bit of caution is in order here since we haven’t yet seen the Touch in action.
According to the company, users will position the Touch’s thumb the same way that they position a natural thumb — intuitively. And this will all be done electronically.
Proportional Speed Control
The Atom Touch will provide users with precise speed control, aided in part by the Touch’s artificial intelligence capabilities.
The Touch will offer what is easily the most advanced sensory feedback system on the market.
As mentioned, this begins with Touch’s use of more than 200 sensors capable of generating four types of sensory data: contact, force, position, and velocity.
Here is a very short example of this technology:
Atom Limbs is also working on the ability to sense heat.
To perceive all this sensory data, users will currently have to undergo Targeted Sensory Reinnervation (TSR) surgery. However, the company is working on the ability to convey contact, force, and heat through the skin, i.e. without surgery.
Wrist & Elbow Design
Atom Touch will allow users to move their elbow and wrist joints, if applicable, with the same intuitive level of control as the hand itself.
Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
The Touch can bicep curl 20.4 kilograms and can exert nearly 32 kilograms of grip force, which is between the grip force of the average woman and the average man.
We do not have any concrete data on this claim, but Atom Limbs describes the Touch as having been built using “incredibly robust, resilient materials that stand up to all your normal daily wear & tear, day in & day out”.
Of course, we’ll know more about this when the Touch has been on the market for a few years and we start getting feedback from users.
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Water and Dust Resistance
The Atom Touch will have an IP rating of 67, meaning that it is totally protected against dust and can also be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.
The Touch does not require a glove.
We do not yet have any information on the Touch’s batteries.
The Atom Touch will offer virtual training software for your PC or mobile software using macOS, iOS, or Windows 10.
Users can slip on an Atom Dot [an EMG cuff] and practice using a virtual arm even before they get a physical device.
We do not yet have any information on user software for configuring or calibrating the physical device, if any.
Suitability for Both Above- and Below-the-Elbow Solutions
The Atom Touch was designed from the outset to be a modular device with hand, wrist, and elbow components. We do not yet have any information on whether the Touch can be used by those who have undergone a full shoulder disarticulation or, if so, how this would be configured.
According to our information, the Atom Touch will sell for between $50,000 and $100,000 U.S. depending on which modular components are included in the solution.
We do not yet have any information on the warranty for the Touch.
User Feedback Survey & Results
The Adam Touch is not expected to be commercially available until 2022. When it is, users can provide feedback via the short survey below.
We probably won’t have enough feedback to report results on the Atom Touch until 2023 or even 2024.
As soon as we do, we’ll update this section.
Considerations Before Buying the Atom Touch
Obviously, this is a new device, so some caution is in order.
On the other hand, the capabilities being described for the Touch are the most exciting in the history of bionic arms/hands, so a little optimism is warranted, too.
One of the things that gives us confidence in Atom Limbs as a company is that their management team has been completely open and transparent with us from the start. As a result, we are confident that they will make a genuine effort to:
- demonstrate the capabilities of the commercial version of the Touch when it is ready;
- disclose any limitations of the device;
- where possible, share with us some of the user experiences from their field tests.
…and that, frankly, is all that we can ask when a new bionic arm/hand first comes to market.
For a list of competitive devices, see Current Options for Above-the-Elbow Bionic Arms.
For a comprehensive description of all current upper-limb technologies, devices, and research, see our complete guide.
Click here for more information on Atom Limbs.