Australian swimmer Jessica Smith has had an uneasy relationship with prosthetics since her childhood accident, but her beliefs are being challenged by a British bionic arm that can be updated remotely from anywhere in the world.
The 2004 Athens Paralympian was born without a left hand.
Her parents had been advised to implant prostheses to help her development, but when she was a child, the device left her irritating a boiling kettle, burning 15 percent of her body.
“There’s always been a connection between the fact that this artificial aid didn’t really help, it caused the most traumatic event in my life,” she said.
But his curiosity was piqued when Covey, based in Leeds, northern England, approached him to try his Nexus hand.
Knowing it would be an emotional challenge, Smith was fitted with the device in April at the age of 37. “I think I was ready to try something like this,” she said.
Bionic hands convert electrical impulses from the muscles of the upper arm into motor-driven motion in the hand, allowing the user to hold a glass, open a door, or lift an egg.
Simon Pollard, who founded Covvi five years ago, said he wants to add Bluetooth to the device so that the company’s experts can update it through the app.
“The fact that we can change some of the things that a customer wants remotely is a really powerful thing and is a first to market,” the chief executive said.
Some rival Bionic hands can be app-controlled, but Pollard said the ability to talk to a single device sets the Nexus apart.
To do this anonymized data is collected for each user, a task managed by partner NetApp.
Pollard said Covy has tied up with 27 distributors globally, including Australia, China and the United States, and aims to increase monthly production to 100.
Smith, who is a speaker and children’s author, said Covey was already creating new movements for him.
“I’ve asked some kids if I can make different hand gestures, some polite some not so polite,” she said. “I asked Covey this morning, and I know it will be up in the next few hours.”
He said that technology is not only changing his life, but it is also changing the lives of his three children.
“They think it’s amazing and I’m like a half human-half robot,” she said.
He said the hand’s “bionic” appearance was a highlight, given his pride in difference.
“I’m not trying to hide who I am,” she said. “I am adding to and expanding who I am by being able to use technology that was never available before.”
© Thomson Reuters 2022