In movies and on television we see Hollywood magic bring fascinating prosthetics and "super-human" body enhancements to life. In reality we aren't quite there with Wolverine's pliable metal skeleton, which would require a LOT of explaining at airport security, and the 6 Million Dollar Man or Bionic Woman, with a completely revamped body that does wondrous things and has that great "bionic action" dut-dut-dut-dut-dut music with it but one thing we are closer to is the Luke Skywalker hand. You know the one at the end of Empire Strikes Back with the whole "Luke I am your father." sequence where Darth Vader cuts off Luke's hand and later on the medical freighter he has a new robotic hand that is fully functional like a real human hand.
We are very very close. I found a company called Touch Bionics that has indeed come the closest I have seen to the Skywalker hand. Unfortunately is has a lame name, the i-LIMB (damn you Apple for the i- on everything now). Anyway, it has individually motorized fingers that allow a person to grip, open soda cans, and even use a key in a lock. But it gets better...
This hand has fingers that can be unscrewed and quickly replaced if there is a defect or it ceases to work. This allows the user to maintain functionality instead of having to wait while the prosthetic is fixed and walk around hand less so people can point and stare. They have also developed a silicone based product with a few other companies called Livingskin that covers the prosthesis and can be colored to match with skin tone, freckles, veins, and finger nails so that the casual observer has no clue that your hand is a prosthetic. Awesome!
Touch Bionics will be the first call I make if I lose a hand. Oh wait, I lied... The first call I make will be 911, the second call will be my parents, and the third call (in the event that my hand cannot be reattached) will be Touch Bionics. Bravo!
www.touchbionics.com It is fascinating and innovative stuff!