At less than $8,000 US, Unlimited Tomorrow’s TrueLimb is the most affordable bionic arm/hand on the market. It also offers a monthly payment plan that makes it even more affordable. And that’s not all. The company’s unique remote scanning + 3D printing process may well revolutionize the entire prosthetic limb industry, making it possible, one day, to spread bionic technologies to low-income amputees around the world.
A Quick Look at The TrueLimb
Rarely does something truly transformative come along in any industry, so we hope you’ll excuse our bubbling enthusiasm for TrueLimb’s entry into the bionic arm market.
We’ll elaborate on Unlimited Tomorrow’s unique process in a subsequent section, but essentially they send you a scanner that allows you to scan your residual limb from the comfort of your own home. After a few back-and-forth steps to ensure proper fitting, a custom bionic arm is delivered to your door. You are then able to train your new arm on your own using Unlimited Tomorrow’s software.
Here is an excellent video summary of all this from C/Net:
The TrueLimb’s Key Features
Grip Patterns & Control System
As with most bionic hands, TrueLimb enables user control over the hand by a combination of preset grip patterns and sensors that lie within the custom socket.
The sensors detect certain types of muscle movements in the residual limb, which are then translated into commands for the hand. The most common commands are simply for the hand to open or close. Exactly which fingers open or close depends on the selected grip.
TrueLimb offers six preset grips, all of which are demonstrated in this video:
These grips are similar to those offered by the Hero Arm and the Michelangelo but are substantially less than the number of grips offered by other hands. However, do not place too much emphasis on this, as most people only use a few core grips to complete a majority of tasks.
Users can switch grip patterns via hold and pulse muscle actions.
Explicitly Positioned Thumb
TrueLimb’s thumb opens and closes electronically in the same manner as its fingers. However, bionic thumbs must also be able to rotate from an opposing position (used to pinch objects between the thumb and fingers) to essentially getting out of the way (used to carry objects like a briefcase or shopping bag).
Some bionic hands perform this rotation electronically, while others require the user to manually rotate the thumb into position with his or her free hand.
TrueLimb has a manually rotated thumb that requires the user to switch thumb positions to access certain grips.
Automatic Finger Stalling
When closing TrueLimb, each finger that participates in the selected grip continues to close until it meets a certain level of resistance. For example, in the image below, the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger all stop closing once they encounter resistance from the upper portion of the ball. But the ring finger continues closing until it secures the bottom of the ball.
This feature allows TrueLimb to conform to many different shapes.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of sensory feedback to give users more intuitive control over their bionic hands. However, only a few commercial devices offer this feature.
TrueLimb can now be added to this list, as it offers sensory feedback for both object detection and force detection.
Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
The fingers on TrueLimb have individual limits. The thumb is rated for 15 lbs of force, the pointer finger (i.e. forefinger) is rated for 15 lbs of force, and the pinky, ring, and middle fingers are collectively rated for 15 lbs of force.
We do not have an overall lift capacity for TrueLimb.
Unlimited Tomorrow uses the HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printer to create each personalized TrueLimb. The company selected MJF in part for its ability to produce lightweight materials with remarkable strength and durability. How durable? Check out this video:
Waterproofing and Dust Resistance
TrueLimb is not intended to be exposed to liquids or excessive dust. We have not been able to find its official IP rating, if one exists.
For those with a unilateral upper limb difference, TrueLimb can be customized to match the appearance of the user’s natural hand. It is available in 450 different skin tones and has even been built to allow users to paint their fingernails.
Suitability for Children
TrueLimb is suitable for ages seven and above.
Unlimited Tomorrow offers a two-year warranty on TrueLimb that covers any defects in material or workmanship.
TrueLimb sells for $7,995 US. This is the first below-the-elbow, commercially available bionic limb to sell for less than $10,000. It can also be purchased on a payment plan for $278 per month.
The news gets even better when it comes to upgrades, as Unlimited Tomorrow offers a 50% discount to all upgrade customers under the age of 21. This helps ensure that young customers never need outgrow their devices.
We cannot emphasize how important these pricing policies are for expanding the availability of modern bionic arms to a much larger portion of the population. And we are hopeful that some future variation of Unlimited Tomorrow’s technology will eventually expand availability into low-income countries around the world.
To see how the TrueLimb’s price compares to its competitors, please see our Bionic Hand Price List.
As mentioned, the fitting process used for the TrueLimb is unique. The following video explains this process in more detail:
Unlimited Tomorrow’s Leadership
Unlimited Tomorrow was founded by Easton LaChappelle in 2014.
Easton started building bionic hand prototypes in his teens. The following video provides a quick glimpse of his history and some of his plans for the future:
What we love about Easton is his passion for helping those with limb differences. Yes, he now has a business to run. That means he has to worry about paying salaries, keeping the lights on, and funding more research. But if you take a few minutes to Google his name, you will see that he is completely genuine in his desire to make the world a better place. And we can certainly get on board with that!
Considerations Before Buying the TrueLimb
Obviously, the first consideration is the price. You simply won’t find a more affordable bionic arm currently on the market.
In terms of appearance, some people prefer TrueLimb’s natural look, while others prefer a more robotic look. This is purely a matter of personal taste.
The factor we try to report on the most is user satisfaction. But with the TrueLimb having been released for sale only recently, we have not yet been able to find any independent third-party reviews of the device. As soon as we do, we’ll return to edit this section.
For a comprehensive description of all current upper-limb technologies, devices, and research, see our complete guide.
For a list of competitor devices, see All Bionic Hands.
If you are shopping for a bionic hand, do not miss our article on Myoelectric 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 Unlimited Tomorrow.