Future of Prostheses

What do you think prostheses of the future will/should look like ?

  • Totally human, skin and follicle mapping, no way to tell prosthetic and natural apart…
  • Somewhere in between, using human form as a guide, but not following through…
  • Not trying to look human at all, but thoughtfully designed…

0 voters

For my BA thesis I was thinking of the future of the prosthetic aesthetic, I’m currently in an early info collection stage and I wanted to get the IDers opinions on this…
What do you think prostheses of the future will/should look like…

Will we keep striving for the human ideal, print skin and cover up the technical parts with an impeccably symmetrical arm?
Will we fall into the uncanny valley, come so close to the human-like but drop familiarity, causing more alienation?
Will we let go of the ideal form and design what we see fit, will they be design objects?
What else is possible?

Any thoughts or theories welcome…

The first option might travel into the uncanny valley territory a bit too much. You could probably create a prothesis that was incredibly lifelike, but that may be more creepy than planned. Imagine seeing this skin and flesh colored thing get pulled off. More importantly, skin and hair will always look one way, an IMD print will always look slightly different. You run the risk of a person getting a sun tan but their arm still being pale. The result is a fake limb which looks real, but doesn’t look like it belongs.

Just waiting to find out you just need to sleep in a bucket of stem cells and have your arm grow back…

Industrial Designer in SF in this arena:


And there’s this:

This is something that is totally depends on the user.

Normally those who lost a limb later on in life, often find the need to have a more realistic prosthesis. While those whom have used a prosthesis from an early age, often gravitate towards more a more technical look. I’m sure there are particular physiological reasons behind this. Something along the lines for replacing a lost limb as opposed to an addition to your body.

I’m actually a below right elbow amputee from birth and don’t ever really use a prosthetic. I had countless different prosthetic growing up and after elementary school I never used one. I currently have one that I use to bench press in the gym and that’s all I ever use it for. Other than something like that I have no need for one, they offer little to no improvement to my daily routine. I’ve learned to accommodate my entire day to only using one hand and see no reason to using a prosthetic.

I’m not a lower limb amputee so I don’t need it to walk and I’m sure that is a completely different experience. But personally I think prosthetic should travel far away from exact replicas and move towards artistic representations of them. As a person I’m not ashamed as to who I am and have no need to try and fit in with everyone else. That is the connotation that I get from prosthetic that try to be too real.

I love the way Ammie Mullins phrases it: that her friends were jealous because she had the opportunity to change her height and outer appearance easily. It’s just a cool way to look at the way prosthetic can impact a users life.

thats gotta be one strong leg!

And a truly compassionate mahout… . . .

My advice would be to visualize all three. That is what exploration is all about. After you have high level visuals for all three directions, show them to a group of amputees and gauge their reaction. Give yourself 2-3 weeks to visualize and test and let them guide your decision as to which to pursue in depth.