Deliver us from Skeuomorph Prosthetics

Van Mensvoort
November 26th 2009

No, this is not another example in our fake for real series, comparing an artificial with a human hand. Rather, you are looking at twice the same hand: with and without its casing. The design of artificial hands has improved significantly over time and the depicted Fluidhand, created by researchers from Karlsruhe, is perhaps the most advanced prosthetic hand available today.

Yet, one wonders why the designers or artificial limbs always stick to the somewhat boring and predictable simulations of the human limbs they are replacing. If you have lost your hand and you need a prosthesis, why no grasp the opportunity to go for an upgrade?

Wouldn't it be liberating if disabled people could receive more creative (and advanced) limb replacements? Think for example of a prosthesis with an integrated GPS–compass, MP3–player, USB–stick, smartphone or a fashionable eight finger octopus design? Yes, yes, we are aware non-prosthetic people might be slightly scared off – or even experience signs of anthorpomorphobia – at the sight of a prosthetic that doesn't try to look like the human limb it is replacing. But then again, a faked plastic hand, that desperately tries to look like an original human hand but never really makes it, also causes uncanny feelings. So why not create something that's better, or at least different than the real thing?

Please deliver us from the skeuomorph prosthetic designs, in which the visual appearance of the original human limb is retained merely as an ornament of a lost functionality. Wouldn't it be much for empowering to transform the disabled into the enabled?

Related: Bionic Woman, High heels, Ear on your arm: why not?, USB finger.

Share your thoughts and join the technology debate!public: 1


Posted 29/12/2009 – 07:32

Hey there, my brother (and best friend) recently cut a couple fingers off due to an accident with a saw. He's looking into prosthetics very similar to these. Anyone know HOW he might become willing guinea-pig or to be put on a list to try this rockin' device? thanks and peace-F

Koert van Mensvoort
Posted 20/12/2009 – 22:09

You are right Martijn, if one interprets the human-skin-like look of the prosthetic as 'functional' (in the sense that it helps them to become socially acceptable) it is not a skeuomorph really. Yet, my point was that there are so many more interesting and spectacular possibilities for prosthetics if only we could get rid of the habit of trying to fake the lost limb.

Martijn van Mensvoort
Posted 19/12/2009 – 19:51

... Hey Koert, I have finally updated my article with 2 news items from october + december 2009!
By the way, what do you have in mind with the aspect of 'skeuomorphism'? Do you relate that to Touch Bionics' "LIVINGSKIN" product?
But I think I am willing to question if even that product is really an example of 'skeuomorphism' ... for, every aspect of that product is so 'functional' - especially in term of social interactions!!
(While the main characteristic of any 'skeuomorphism' appears to be ... that it has certain DESIGN aspects which have: no obvious function at all...!!! Right?)

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