The Zeus bionic limb is yet another worthy entry into the bionic arms & hands market. Strong and durable, with a lift capacity of 35 kgs and one of the highest grip forces in the industry, it is also quite deft. With 12 built-in and 2 customizable grip configurations, it supports a wide variety of tasks. It also has an innovative auto grasp feature that allows the hand to automatically conform to the shape of each object it grasps.
A Quick Look at The Zeus Bionic Limb
Aether Biomedical hasn’t yet produced a lot of videos on Zeus, so the first one we’re going to show you is more of a commercial. Still, it gives us a good close-up of the hand in motion:
This next video, which is also quite short, demonstrates some of Zeus’s unique grip capabilities. Notice, for example, how the wearer uses his Zeus hand to turn the door key, and also how he holds the knife.
Now that you’ve seen Zeus in action, let’s dive into some of its more interesting features.
The Zeus Bionic Limb’s Key Features
Grip Patterns & Control System
In theory, the number and types of tasks that a bionic hand can perform depend on the number of grip configurations that it supports.
In the current bionic arm/hand market, this ranges from a low of 6 to a high of 36.
Numerically, the Zeus bionic limb falls in the middle of this pack but offers additional enhancements. It automatically detects the thumb’s position and adjusts accordingly. Also, as each finger closes, it stalls as soon as it meets a certain level of resistance. This allows Zeus to intuitively conform to the shape of each object it grasps.
For example, when picking up a wine glass, the thumb, index finger, and middle finger all stop closing once they meet the resistance of the glass bowl. But the ring finger and pinky continue closing until they encounter the stem. This mirrors the way natural hands work and results in better, more adaptable grips.
This feature is found in only a few other premium bionic hands (at premium prices).
It also raises an important issue. Most users of bionic hands perform the vast majority of tasks using only a few core grips. So, is it better to offer a large number of grips, most of which will never be used, or a smaller number of grips that self-adjust? Our money is on the latter.
Finally, Zeus’s grip switching methodology gives the user access to all the available grips at the same time, without needing to push a button.
Manual Thumb Rotation
Zeus does not come with an electronically positioned thumb. The thumb does open and close electronically, and it has a built-in sensor to detect its position. But users must manually rotate the thumb into an opposing or lateral position.
This is not a major drawback. Myoelectric hands typically require some form of preparation before performing a task, such as selecting an appropriate grip. In most instances, users will intuitively rotate Zeus’s thumb into position with their free hand. However, there are some cases where this is not convenient, such as when both hands are needed for a task.
In Zeus’s case, this a trade-off for its grip strength and robustness. To rotate Zeus’s thumb would require a heavy motor, which in turn would increase the hand’s weight. It would also complicate the grip change mechanism, which Zeus has tried to make as easy as possible for users.
However, in a market where several hands now offer electronic thumb rotation, we do view this as a competitive disadvantage.
Proportional Speed Control
As with most myoelectric hands, the Zeus bionic limb offers proportional speed control. This allows the user to change the grip speed and strength of the hand just by controlling the strength of muscle signals.
Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
Zeus offers a lift capacity of 35 kgs, which puts it in the upper tier of the industry. It also offers a grip force of 152 newtons, which is the most we’ve seen for any bionic hand. By comparison, natural hands exert roughly 70 newtons of force for typical daily activities. Put another way, you will never lack for grip strength when using Zeus.
The Zeus bionic limb offers a number of features to enhance its durability. Its fingers are compliant, which reduces the risk of finger breakage. Its palm uses a combination of hard and soft material for reduced weight and lateral shock absorption. And if you do happen to damage the hand, its modular design makes for a fast and easy repair that can be performed at a local service center.
Flexible Battery Pack and Advanced EMG Sensors
The standard Zeus kit comes with flexible battery cells and the thinnest electrode system on the market (the Element sensor system from Infinite Biomedical Technologies). Both components contribute to a low-profile socket design.
Not only does this make the socket more attractive for the wearer — it also makes fabrication easier for the prosthetist.
The Zeus Bionic Limb comes with 10 different silicone glove color options that can be fit to the hand.
Zeus is also compatible with the Whizzlink system from Glaze Prosthetics. This means that a user can personalize his or her bionic limb with different levels of customization and finish.
Suitable for Both Above- and Below-the-Elbow Solutions
Another trend in the bionic arm/hand market is a move toward modular solutions, where separate components can work together to provide the required prosthesis.
Zeus is no different. It can be used with a fitted shell for below-the-elbow limb differences, or in combination with bionic elbows and/or shoulders to form a complete bionic arm.
According to our information, the Zeus bionic limb will sell for a total net price to the user of between $13,000 and $15,000 USD. That’s inclusive of all components and fees for a typical solution.
This makes Zeus one of the most affordable bionic hands on the market. To see this for yourself, check out our Bionic Hand Price List.
Considerations Before Buying the Zeus Bionic Limb
We cannot comment on many aspects of the Zeus bionic limb in the field, as it is still relatively new. As soon as we find independent user reviews, we’ll include them in this review.
What we can say is that, at $13,000 to $15,000 USD, prospective users should at least take a look at this device.
We also have a very good opinion of its founder and CEO, who has been as open and transparent with us as we could ask — a good sign with any company.
For more information on upper limb bionics, see Understanding Bionic Arms & Hands.
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 Aether Biomedical.