'Amazing' bionic hand can be updated with new movements from anywhere in the world

·2-min read

A former Paralympian has been fitted with a bionic hand that can be updated with new movements and gestures from anywhere in the world.

Australian swimmer Jessica Smith said the device is "amazing" and that she chose to have it despite a traumatic experience with a prosthetic when she was a child.

The Nexus hand is made by British firm Covvi, based in Leeds, and its Bluetooth feature means its experts can update it remotely via an app.

Like other bionic hands, it converts electrical impulses from the upper arm muscles into movements powered by the device's motors.

"The fact we can change some of the things that the customer wants remotely is a really powerful thing and a first to market," said Covvi chief executive Simon Pollard.

Other prosthetic hands can be controlled via the app, but Mr Pollard said that his is the first that can talk to a single device.

Ms Smith said updates to the hand's functionality can be added quickly.

"I've had a few kids ask if I can do different hand gestures, some polite some not so polite," she said.

"I asked Covvi this morning, and I know that will be done in the next couple of hours."

The swimmer, who competed at the 2004 Paralympics, had a prosthetic when she was young but an experience with a boiling kettle left her with burns to 15% of her body.

"There's always been an association between the fact this prosthetic aid didn't actually help, it created the most traumatic event in my life," she said.

However, she decided to get the Nexus hand fitted at age 37 in April, and now her three children are in awe of their "half human-half robot" mum.

"I'm not trying to hide who I am," added Ms Smith, who now works as a speaker and children's author.

"I'm adding and expanding on who I am by being able to access technology that's never been available before."

Covvi said it hopes to increase monthly production of the Nexus hand to 100 and has signed up 27 global distributors.