With sensory feedback, superior closing speed, and an emphasis on durability, the Psyonic Ability Hand offers good value for its lower midrange price.
What’s On This Page?
- A Quick Look at the Ability Hand
- Grip Patterns & Control System
- Thumb Rotation
- Proportional Speed Control
- Sensory Feedback
- Wrist Design
- Size & Weight
- Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
- Water and Dust Resistance
- Glove Options
- User Software
- Suitability for Above-the-Elbow Solutions
- User Feedback Survey & Results
- Considerations Before Buying an Ability Hand
- Related Information
A Quick Look at the Ability Hand
The following video provides an overview of the latest version of the Ability Hand, which was officially launched on September 01, 2021:
Grip Patterns & Control System
The Ability Hand offers 32 grip patterns, which you can view midway down this page. This is on the high side for the industry. However, research proves that users typically use only a few core grips throughout the day. What’s more important is how well a bionic hand performs these core grips, which is a function of its myoelectric sensors, control system, and electromechanics.
The Ability Hand is compatible with most third-party EMG direct control systems, EMG pattern recognition systems, linear transducers, and force-sensitive resistors. It does not appear to offer its own proprietary control system but seems to focus instead on the hand’s ability to respond to control signals. In this respect, it offers two features that are especially important for improved control: sensory feedback and superior closing speed. We elaborate on both these features below.
The Ability Hand’s thumb automatically positions itself based on the selected grip but can also be positioned manually.
Proportional Speed Control
Found in most bionic hands, proportional speed control means that the hand closes with a speed and strength corresponding to the speed and strength of the muscle signals generated by the user.
The Ability Hand does appear to offer proportional speed control although this is not explicitly stated anywhere. One thing that is clearly stated is its ability to close its fingers in only 200 milliseconds, which is faster than most if not all other hands on the market. This speed allows the Ability Hand to do this:
We’ve not yet seen another bionic hand perform a similar feat.
Why is this important? With most bionic hands, you not only have to visually guide the hand through the minutiae of each movement. You also have to perform actions more slowly than you would naturally. All of this increases the mental load on the user.
With its sensory feedback and fast closing speed, the Ability Hand has significantly reduced that mental load, further narrowing the gap between bionic and natural hands.
The Ability Hand is one of the few commercial bionic hands with sensory feedback. Sensors in the fingertips trigger vibrations in the residual limb that tell the user when they have come into contact with an object and how much pressure they are applying to it.
The following video is much too dark for our liking but, if you look closely, it shows the Ability Hand picking up three fragile objects — a thin plastic cup, an eggshell, and a berry — without crushing or even deforming them, which is quite difficult to do without sensory feedback:
How important is this capability? Anything that helps the user feel more connected to his bionic hand and aids in control/dexterity is a welcome feature.
The Ability Hand offers an industry-standard Quick Disconnect Wrist connector, but not the wrist component itself (i.e. it does not include an electric rotating wrist or any kind of wrist flexion).
Size & Weight
As of October 2019, the Ability Hand came in two sizes:
- Large (200 mm long x 110 mm wide by 55 mm deep)
- Small (189 mm long x 110 mm wide by 55 mm deep)
These sizes reflected the typical hand sizes of both male and female adults and teenagers.
We are not yet certain if these sizes remain in effect for the September 2021 release, so we’ll update this section as soon as we clarify this.
We do know that the new version of the hand weighs only 470 grams, which is about 20 % lighter than the average human hand. This reduced weight can mean a lot to some users, making the hand less tiring to use and putting less strain on the interface between the socket and the residual limb.
Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
As of October 2019, the Ability Hand had a lift capacity of 23 Kgs, which put it slightly ahead of the Michelangelo Hand, but well behind the lift capacity of both the i-Limb and the bebionic Hand. We say “as of October 2019” because Psyonic hasn’t updated its online User Manual for its September 2021 release, so we don’t yet know if this metric has changed. This is also why we are still relying on these old prototype pictures to demonstrate its lift capabilities:
We do not yet have any data on the Ability Hand’s grip force.
At one time or another, most of us have temporarily lost the function of our fingers, hand, and/or arm due to injury. We all know how inconvenient this can be.
It is no different for someone who relies on a bionic hand. Having fingers or the entire hand break is a major inconvenience, especially if the hand must be sent back to the manufacturer for repairs.
The Ability Hand’s fingers are made of flexible silicone and rubber. This makes them both compliant and durable.
Water and Dust Resistance
The Ability Hand has an IP64 rating. This means that it is completely protected from dust and can be splashed by water from any direction, but it cannot be submerged in water.
The Ability Hand does not require a glove.
The Ability Hand includes a battery pack that features a high-capacity, high-throughput, 7.4VDC lithium polymer battery that should provide sufficient power for a full day’s usage. The battery is charged through a USB-C charging port and requires only one hour to charge. You can even charge your phone from your arm!
The Ability Hand does include access to an IOS/Android mobile application that can be used both by prosthetists and end-users. However, we have not been able to find a good video demonstration of this application or a clear description of its features.
Suitability for Above-the-Elbow Solutions
The Ability Hand is a component hand (i.e. designed for use with other bionic components) that is compatible with most 3rd-party sensor and control systems, so it should be suitable for most above-the-elbow solutions.
According to our information, the Ability Hand sells for between $20,000 and $30,000 US for a typical below-the-elbow solution, including all prosthetist fees.
For a complete list of prices for other bionic hands, please see our Bionic Hand Price List.
The Ability Hand is currently available only in the U.S.
The Ability Hand includes a two-year limited warranty that covers manufacturing errors and/or material defects.
User Feedback Survey & Results
Are you currently using the Ability Hand or have you used it in the past?
If so, why not help others by sharing your experiences in this quick survey:
We do not yet have a sufficient number of survey participants to publish fair and accurate results for the Ability Hand.
As soon as we do, we’ll update this section.
Considerations Before Buying an Ability Hand
We’ve had ongoing, periodic interaction with Psyonic’s founder and CEO, Aadeel Akhtar, since early 2020. One of the things we really like about him and thus about Psyonic in general is their focus on features that truly matter to bionic hand users, such as durability, weight, responsiveness (i.e. closing speed), sensory feedback, water/dust resistance, and of course price. Some of these features, such as weight and responsiveness, may not offer much “bang for the buck” in the sales process. But they will mean a lot to users after they take their bionic hand home and actually start using it, so we respect the honesty/sincerity with which Psyonic seems to be trying to deliver true value to their customers.
What we don’t like about Psyonic is that their online marketing skills are quite poor. They keep trying to create promotional videos that look like short movie trailers but are completely devoid of substantive information, which explains why we have so few worthwhile videos in this article. In our experience, prospective users of bionic hands want to see clear videos of hands attempting to perform daily tasks, warts and all. They want to know what a hand is good at — and not good at — so that they can narrow their list of possible candidates from the 25+ bionic hand models now on the market down to a few that deserve closer examination. We urge Psyonic to help their prospective customers do this by producing more informative videos with clear demonstrations of activities of daily living (ADL).
In the end, of course, our opinion of Psyonic’s online marketing skills hardly matters. What matters is what real customers say about their experiences with the Ability Hand through our User Satisfaction Surveys. But it will be a couple of years before we have that information, given the fact that Psyonic has only recently started widespread distribution. So, our best advice, given the limited information available online and no user feedback at this stage, is for prospective users to insist on taking the Ability Hand for an extended test drive before making a purchase decision.
For a list of competitor devices, see All Bionic Hands.
For a comprehensive description of all current upper-limb technologies, devices, and research, see our complete guide.
If you are shopping for a bionic hand, do not miss our article on Bionic Arm & Hand Control Systems. Getting this part of your bionic system right is probably the biggest single ingredient in your long-term satisfaction.
Click here for more information on Psyonic.