Another feature of the prosthesis is sensitivity, which allows you to pick up a raw egg with mechanical fingers without crushing it.
Jeremy Schroeder lost his arm back in 2011 – it was amputated after an accident. At the same time, the man, who is already 42 years old, now runs a small farm, independently drives a tractor, harvests crops and cares for animals.
Schroeder wears a bionic Zeus arm from Aether Biomedical, which is capable of lifting up to 35 kg and has 12 different operating modes. According to the man, who is currently an ambassador for the company, the prosthesis is good for “everything” in everyday life – driving a truck, carrying bags of food or caring for children.
Jeremy Schroeder with the hand of Zeus. Photo: Aether Biomedical
Founded in 2018, Aether is based in Poland with its US headquarters in Chicago. The company works with upper limb amputees, and its prosthesis can be installed on any patient with an arm amputation level from the wrist to the shoulder. Currently, about 200 people use the Zeus arm and other Aether bionic arms, which are controlled by electrical signals to transmit muscle movement signals into the prosthetic. For example, when a patient is about to grasp a cup or pinch a needle, Aether's sensors detect signals and transmit them to software that turns them into action.
“Almost anything you can think of can be done,” Schroeder said.
According to Aether CEO Dhruv Agrawal, the “Arm of Zeus” is the most powerful bionic arm on the market, and the only one that can be controlled through a program. Typically, the device is adjusted for each patient separately during a personal visit to the doctor, but owners of Aether devices can do this remotely (but also with the participation of a doctor) by simply logging into the company’s cloud platform and changing the settings.
The prosthesis consists of 7 modules that can be easily replaced in the doctor’s office,
says Sarah Mullen, head of Aether's US operations, while other bionic arms must be returned to the manufacturer for repair, leaving patients without a prosthetic for a long time.
The Hand of Zeus is FDA approved and is covered by all major insurance companies. The cost of a prosthesis depends on the body constitution of the person himself.
Aether recently received funding in the amount of $5.8 million, which will be used to improve the company's production process.
In the United States alone, there are approximately 800,000 to 1 million people living with upper limb amputations. Aether also plans to donate its devices to Ukraine – people affected by the war. According to Agrawal, the company will send its team to the country in a few weeks – and expects between 300 and 500 people to receive the “hand of Zeus” over the next 1.5 years.
Patients using the bionic arm for the first time will need 4 to 6 weeks to become comfortable using it. At the same time, another Aether patient, 61-year-old Andrew Hitz, mastered the hand of Zeus in just 10 minutes.
Andrew Hitz with the hand of Zeus. Photo: Aether Biomedical
Hitz underwent a planned amputation of his arm to the elbow in 2019 after a serious accident and subsequently he repeatedly tried to use a bionic prosthesis – only with luck with Aether.
Like Schroeder, Hitz leads an active lifestyle and runs a small farm with his wife. He takes care of chickens, sheep, goats, donkeys, etc. The man says that the hand of Zeus perfectly holds rakes and shovels, helps drive a tractor, carry feed and collect hay.
But the feature that interested Hitz the most, compared to other prostheses, was the soft grip, which allows mechanical fingers to pick up a raw egg without crushing it.