The Esper Hand prosthetic arm uses intuitive self-learning technology to predict intended movement. Equipped with 30 non-invasive sensors, this bionic hand claims to be three times faster than other prosthetics on the market.
“Meet innovations with empathy: the first bionic hand that cares”—This is how the engineering startup Esper Bionics describes its Esper Hand, which employs an electromyography-based brain-computer interface (BCI) to trigger movement. In other words, the prosthetic arm uses the electrical signals naturally generated by the muscles. According to the manufacturer, the Esper Hand is three times faster than any other prosthetic currently on the market.
When the wearer wants to move the bionic hand, the brain sends impulses to specific muscles which would normally activate the natural limb. In the case of the Esper Hand, over 30 sensors connect the stump socket to the wearer’s skin. These detect electrical muscle activity and relay the information to trigger the desired movement in the prosthetic hand.
Updating Control Algorithms
Prediction algorithms and progressive improvement are at the core of the Esper Hand concept. The bionic hand not only senses intended movement but is also able to predict it more accurately over time.
The cloud-based Esper Platform plays a key role in this process. Connected to both the hand and the wearer’s smartphone or laptop, it collects and stores the user’s movement data to update the control algorithms for the hand. This enables the bionic hand to recognize situations, choose the appropriate grip in advance and in this way gain abilities over time.
In fact, the greater the user practices, the better the Esper Hand understands their personalized needs.
Easy to Use and Remove
The device weighs only 380g. It is made of a combination of polyoxymethylene plastic, fluoroplastics, nylon, aluminum, steel, titanium, bronze and three different types of silicone. It comes in four sizes and five colors. Its five movable digits can rotate and grip in multiple ways, allowing the wearer to perform various everyday tasks. The bionic arm is also easy to remove, which is particularly important in practical situations such as changing clothes.
Watch this video about the “human-like” Esper Hand prosthetic arm that can be controlled by the mind:
Esper Bionics wanted to make the device affordable for the majority of markets through the development of alternative versions at different price points. Dmytro Gazda, CEO and founder of Esper Bionics, explained:
“We are planning to make Esper Hand available to American consumers this summer. Although we cannot disclose prices at the moment, we expect it to be covered by insurance providers.
In the meantime, we are also working on bringing the bionic hand to the European market in 2023. Our plans are to produce at least 300 robotic prostheses within the first year.”
Elegance, Functionality and Endurance
Esper Bionics’ goal was to create a prosthetic “inspired by the beauty of the human body and the lightness and durability of aviation technology.” The company also wanted its bionic arm to embody “elegance, functionality and endurance.”
To achieve this goal, Esper Bionics’ engineers conducted electromechanical and durability tests on 3D-printed versions of the hand. Dmytro Gazda added:
“These tests helped us adjust the proportion between durability and weight. We replaced plastic components with metal ones and changed the size of some components to make Esper Hand lighter but more robust.”
Founded in 2019, Esper Bionics was one of the top three health techpreneurs at the 2021 Healthcare Innovation Cup. The company’s headquarters are in New York, with R&D and manufacturing branches in Germany and Ukraine. Three names in charge of the firm are Ukrainian: CEO Dmytro Gazda, VP of Engineering Ihor Ilchenko, and COO Anna Belevantseva. The ongoing war has obviously affected everyone.
Dmytro Gazda said:
“Esper Bionics’ roots and soul are Ukrainian. Luckily, all our Ukrainian team members are safe now. Most of them have relocated closer to our Berlin office. Others have gone to Lviv, in the western part of Ukraine, where we have also moved our Kyiv R&D facilities.
Remarkably, having overcome all the difficulties of relocation, we have started to hire even more professionals in Ukraine. Also, we have created an application form for every Ukrainian who has lost a limb during the conflict. We will help them either with the Esper Hand or with an action plan for what to do next.”