What do you get when you combine a well-known Australian swimmer and a British bionics company? It’s not a joke, but rather a combination that gives us great patient advocacy for a remarkable prosthetic: the COVVI Hand. Jessica Smith, a Paralympic swimmer and motivational speaker who was born without a left hand, uses the bionic device that’s just received a noteworthy upgrade; users now can get updates to their smart prosthetics remotely from any connected spot on the planet, with technicians adding new motions and gestures.
Via the COVVI Go app, specialists from the Leeds-based company can update individual prosthetics for customizations that are uniquely tailored to a specific user. What else can the app do? Users can set up and adjust their prosthetic hands to their desired specifications, such as selecting different open/close options. Users can use the app to program the hand for a variety of different grips (there are 14 to choose from) and change grips while the hand is in use. To test new control strategies, users can use the app’s virtual COVVI Hand simulator.
In general, the way a bionic hand works is simple; electrical impulses from the muscles of a limb travel to the device and trigger actions in the prosthetic hand’s motors. Using the input graph in the COVVI Go app, users can set up their hands to respond to their unique signals. How the hand responds to this real-time input is then mapped to the user’s electrical impulses. While the raw mechanics of this smart prosthetic are noteworthy, the COVVI Glove that encases the device deserves mention, as it contributes significantly to its functionality. For example, a “soft-touch coating” on the glove’s index finger gives the wearer the ability to use touchscreens. The fingertips of the medical-grade silicon glove have a serrated-like texture to allow for easy gripping.
Jessica Smith writes on Instagram, “It’s not about me relearning how to do things I’ve always done, just with a new device…for me, this is an opportunity to do things I’ve never been able to do. The boring mundane tasks that come so easily and natural if I were using my right hand…The technology coupled with the mind and human body, is truly phenomenal.”