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Touch Bionics unveils chip for bionic hands

PROSTHETIC limb maker Touch Bionics has launched a number of innovative new products at a trade show in Germany which it believes will help people improve their daily lives.

Among the range is a blue-tooth chip which activates the company's bionic hands and fingers into a specific grip.

Those chips can be placed by users in places around their homes or at work where different grips are needed for regular tasks which may include getting cutlery, lifting a kettle or using a computer.

While users will still be able to manually programme their prosthetics the so-called grip chips are said to offer a quick and easy alternative.

Bertolt Meyer, a wearer of the i-limb ultra revolution, said: "As a long-time prosthetic user, grip chips are a significant advance in prosthesis control and grip activation.

"I am able to easily and precisely switch between desired grips based on what I wish to accomplish."

At the OTWorld 2014 International Congress in Leipzig yesterday Touch Bionics also announced a new skin-like covering, called i-limb skin active TS, which lets people manipulate touchscreen devices. The Livingston, West Lothian, company suggested this would be particularly useful for double amputees.

Upgrades and improvements to its range of apps, which are used to control its products, were also released including compatibility with devices running the Android software operating system.

Previously the apps, called my grips biosim and my i-limb, were only available to those using Apple technology.

Touch Bionics said the new apps offer a potential to add 12 custom grips which in turn means users can have up to 36 different options to position their prosthetic. Ian Stevens, chief executive, said: "Our grip chips, my grips and i-limb skin active TS are innovative new products which provide significant opportunities for i-limb wearers to precisely control and utilise their bionic hands.

Patients using these technologies can expect to achieve significant improvements in self-esteem and the ability to perform activities of daily living."

The most recent annual accounts for Touch EMAS, which trades as Touch Bionics, showed it was getting closer to profitability and narrowed pre-tax losses from £588,000 to £93,684 in 2013.

That came as revenue grew from a figure of £10.02 million to £12.3m.

The Scottish teenager Patrick Kane became the first person to be fitted with the i-limb ultra-­revolution hand product in April last year.

More than 4,000 Touch Bionics devices are in use around the world, with 95% of its sales made outside the UK.

The company was founded in 2003 by inventor David Gow after it was spun-out from NHS Scotland.

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