We missed the whole bottle-flipping craze a few years ago. In case you missed it too, it was one of those cheerfully absurd social-media stunts that went viral—the goal being, in this instance, to toss a half-filled bottle of water end over end and stick the landing, like this:
It’s harder than it looks, and people made the job even harder by trying to achieve upright landings on tall cabinets, narrow window sills, metal handrails, and other difficult targets. The toughest test of all? Try pulling off a successful bottle flip with a bionic hand.
That’s the premise of a new YouTube video that illustrates the capabilities of the Ability Hand. Released last September by a Chicago startup called Psyonic, the Ability Hand bills itself as fast, flexible, and responsive, with a unique sensory-feedback system that uses vibrations to simulate the sense of touch. Bionics for Everyone credits the device with “narrowing the gap between bionic and natural hands,” noting that Ability Hand relieves users of the need to visually guide the hand through the minutiae of each movement, which significantly reduces the mental load on the user. Nobody does better product reviews of advanced prosthetic gear than Bionics for Everyone; you can read their full review of Ability Hand here.
While developing the Ability Hand, Psyonic founder Aadeel Akhtar landed more than $1 million in competitive R&D grants from the National Science Foundation, Samsung, the University of Illinois, and other major funders. Forbes, Newsweek, and MIT have hailed Akhtar as one of the country’s top up-and-coming biotech innovators, and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is partnering with Psyonic to enhance the mind-machine connection. A final note: Ability Hand is affordable enough to fall within Medicare’s coverage guidelines, a key hurdle toward making the device broadly accessible.
This is all quite impressive, to be sure. But let’s get to the question that counts: Can you flip a bottle with this thing or not?
Watch below and can see for yourself. The action starts in earnest at the 5:45. As you’ll observe, this stunt involves a pretty intense degree of manual dexterity. It requires a fine-tuned feel for the bottle’s weight and momentum, a nimble touch and precise release, and a perfectly timed snap of the wrist. Learn more about Ability Hand at the company’s website; we also recommend this article from IEEE Spectrum.