The TrueLimb brings several innovations to the bionic hand market, including its direct-to-consumer model and a revolutionary sensing/control system called TrueSense.
What’s On This Page?
- A Quick Look at TrueLimb
- Grip Patterns & Control System
- Thumb Rotation
- Adaptive Grip
- Proportional Speed Control
- Sensory Feedback
- Wrist Design
- Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
- Water and Dust Resistance
- Glove Options
- User Software
- Suitability for Above-the-Elbow Solutions
- Suitability for Children
- User Feedback Survey & Results
- Considerations Before Buying a TrueLimb
- Related Information
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 Unlimited Tomorrow’s TrueLimb.
First, it uses a revolutionary sensing/control system called TrueSense. Why is this important? If you read our article on myoelectric control systems, you will see that myoelectric skin sensors often have reliability problems due to changes in residual arm position, arm size (i.e. swelling/shrinkage), and sweat. TrueSense was designed to overcome these problems. For more information, see the section on Grip Patterns and Control Systems.
TrueLimb’s second major innovation is its direct-to-consumer model. As with every other bionic hand on the market, TrueLimb is available through select clinics. So, if you want to use a clinician that you know/love/trust, Unlimited Tomorrow will work with them. This is also helpful if you have insurance coverage and need help with the paperwork.
But if you don’t have insurance, Unlimited Tomorrow has done something that no other bionics company has done: they allow you to buy the TrueLimb direct from them:
During this process, every potential user meets virtually with a certified prosthetist to verify that they are a candidate for the TrueLimb. The prosthetist remains involved throughout the socket fitting process until the delivery and adoption of the device. Unlimited Tomorrow also provides training to occupational therapists from their fully credentialed in-house OT resources. Finally, users complete their training at home using TrueLimb’s training software.
Why is this so important? Because the direct-to-consumer model allows Unlimited Tomorrow to sell the TrueLimb for only $8,000 US. If you check our bionic hand price list, you will see that this is the only bionic hand selling for less than $10,000 anywhere in the world, which is a fraction of the cost of the majority of bionic hands. Yet, despite this much lower price, customers do not sacrifice any of the professional input needed to ensure a successful outcome. They just access this expertise differently.
They also pay for it differently. First, there is no additional charge for the involvement of a prosthetist or the OT-to-OT training — that’s all included in the advertised price. Second, without the need for insurance, customers don’t need to put themselves through the stressful and often disappointing insurance approval process. A TrueLimb direct-to-consumer transaction is more like the purchase of any other expensive consumer item. You can even buy it on a payment plan at $279 US per month!
Given the grief that many people experience with insurance companies when it comes to paying for bionic limbs, this is a new and welcome option. It has made bionic hands financially accessible to many people who previously could not afford them — an issue near and dear to our hearts at BFE.
And what do you get for all of this innovation? The best quick feature description is contained in the 9:14 to 11:06 segment of this otherwise lengthy video:
TrueLimb 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 socket. The sensors detect certain types of muscle movements in the residual limb, which are then translated into commands for the hand. The main commands are to select a grip or to open or close the hand.
However, TrueLimb does not use myoelectric sensors. Its TrueSense system uses sensors that detect changes in muscle topography. This is a major innovation. Unlike myoelectric sensors, which rely heavily on maintaining ideal contact with the skin and sometimes struggle with changes in residual arm position/size/sweating, TrueSense is more reliable. This is due in part to its use of muscle topography, but also because TrueLimb’s socket is a sensor grid consisting of as many as 36 sensors that provide a 360-degree view of the residual arm’s muscles:
Most low-cost myoelectric hands currently on the market typically offer only two myoelectric sensors. More expensive pattern recognition systems use up to 16.
Does this mean that TrueLimb has a superior control system? We think so but we won’t know for certain until we get data from our User Satisfaction Survey.
Regarding grip patterns, 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, most people only use a few core grips to complete a majority of tasks, so this issue is not as important as it is made out to be in competitor advertising material.
Users can switch grip patterns via hold and pulse muscle actions.
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.
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.
Proportional Speed Control
Most bionic hands offer proportional speed control. This allows the user to manage the grip speed and strength just by controlling the strength of muscle signals.
We believe that this is built into TrueLimb but cannot find an explicit statement confirming this. We have sent an inquiry to the company and will update this section when we hear back from them.
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. It provides haptic feedback in the form of small vibrations when the hand makes contact with an object.
TrueLimb offers only one wrist option, which appears to be fixed, i.e. the wrist does not move. In general, a fixed wrist forces the user to make unnatural elbow and shoulder movements, which can be both awkward and tiring.
Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
The fingers on TrueLimb have individual lift limits. The thumb and pointer finger (i.e. forefinger) are each rated for 15 lbs of force, while 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:
This video is impressive, but the only assessment of durability that we truly trust is that of end-users through our User Satisfaction Survey.
Water 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.
TrueLimb does not require a glove and, to our knowledge, Unlimited Tomorrow does not offer any glove options.
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.
Unlimited Tomorrow claims that its battery lasts for days but we do not have any technical information on the battery. We do know that it uses a USB-C charger, similar to mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.
TrueLimb comes with software to help users train their muscles to control the hand. Unfortunately, we do not yet have a video of this training system.
Suitability for Above-the-Elbow Solutions
TrueLimb is not a component hand. It is a complete below-the-elbow solution and so it is not suitable for above-the-elbow solutions.
Suitability for Children
TrueLimb is suitable for ages seven and above.
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 $279 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 won’t 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 in low-income countries around the world.
To see how the TrueLimb’s price compares to its competitors, please see our Bionic Hand Price List.
The TrueLimb is currently available in the USA and Canada.
However, the company does plan to expand globally over time.
Unlimited Tomorrow offers a two-year warranty on TrueLimb that covers any defects in material or workmanship.
User Feedback Survey & Results
Are you currently using the TrueLimb 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 TrueLimb.
As soon as we do, we’ll update this section.
Considerations Before Buying the TrueLimb
Obviously, the first consideration is the price. If you’re buying directly from Unlimited Tomorrow, you simply won’t find a more affordable bionic hand anywhere. Even if you’re purchasing TrueLimb through a clinic, it should still be one of the lowest-priced bionic hands available in your geographic area, if not the lowest.
The second consideration is its unique sensor and control system, TrueSense. As we point out in many of our articles on control systems, compatibility between the user and the system is a major factor in determining user satisfaction. The only way to know if a system is compatible with your residual limb is to try it out. With TrueSense being so different from myoelectric control systems (meaning it could be much more or much less compatible, depending on the user), we simply wouldn’t decide on a bionic hand until we had at least given TrueLimb a try.
If you want to assess whether you’re compatible with TrueLimb/TrueSense, you can do so through their assessment process starting here.
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 in the summer of 2020, we do not yet have sufficient feedback from our User Satisfaction Survey to present such a report.
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.
Click here for more information on Unlimited Tomorrow.