A British man has an unusual implant – a smartphone dock embedded in his prosthetic arm
A British man is thought to have become the first patient in the world to have a smartphone docking system built directly into his prosthetic arm, thanks to mobile operator O2.
Fifty-year old Trevor Prideaux was born without his left arm and for years has battled to use a mobile handset. However, with the arrival of the Apple iPhone, Prideaux found he could use a mobile but still had to balance the smartphone on his prosthetic arm or put it on a flat surface for texting and other keyboard activities.
Apple Cold Shoulder
According to an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Trevor Prideaux explained how, after trying out the iPhone, he approach Apple for a “blank iPhone casing”, but the iPhone maker reportedly “refused to co-operate”.
He then contacted mobile operator O2 when he had to upgrade his existing Nokia handset, and explained his idea to them. O2 agreed to help him, and technicians at the Exeter Mobility Centre (EMC) in Devon (where Prideaux usually gets his prosthetic arms) got working on a “communications limb”.
Essentially, the team made a laminated fibre cast of the phone and built it into the limb, so Prideaux’s Nokia C7 slots inside the arm. It took five weeks to develop a working prototype.
“I think this is the first time this has ever been done in the world – and it is brilliant,” Prideaux, of Wedmore, Somerset, told the Telegraph. “I can now take calls and make texts just by using my one hand, while the phone sits inside my arm.”
“The phone slots smoothly and securely within my limb and is easily removable, when required,” he said. “ I think this would help a lot of people with prosthethic arms – especially those who were not born with the disability.”
“People who have had motorbike crashes and soldiers who have lost limbs – they could all benefit from this,” he added.
Prideaux explained that the Nokia C7 actually suits him better than an iPhone, because it is narrower than the iPhone has both a Qwerty and alphanumeric board, which is easier for him to use.
“My Nokia C7 sits within my forearm, between my stump socket and the single knob rotary that holds my limb attachments in place,” he said. “Now when I get call I can either hold my arm up to my ear or put it on speaker phone. I can also take it out if I need to. Texting is also much easier and a lot safer.”
“I am hugely grateful to the people at EMC,” he said. “This is a leap forward which has helped me out a lot and can also aid others.”
Back in September 2010, it was revealed that two independent US research groups had developed an artificial, electronic skin that has the ability to sense, and respond to, a very light touch.