I remember at the age of 14 being afraid to call the pizza man for fear I wouldn't speak clearly or get our family's dinner order incorrect. I can't imagine having enough gumption to ask, for example, Mercedes-Benz to pick up the tab for, hypothetically, a bionic hand.
14-year old Matthew James was born without a left hand. He dreamed of having a sophisticated bionic hand, but his family couldn't afford the $43,000. But a chance meeting with Ross Brawn gave Matthew a life-changing experience: a new hand, for free.
He wrote to Ross Brawn, the man in charge of the Mercedes GP Petronas team, after Brawn visited his school in Berkshire, England. Matthew asked the F1 team to help his family raise the money, and even offered to have the hand sponsored by Mercedes-Benz to compensate. A member of the team reached out to Touch Bionics, a Scottish company specializing in advanced medical devices. They waived the cost of installing the hand and training Matthew on how to use it, while Mercedes was kind enough to cover the rest. And the hand is advanced enough for an F1 team: it features five individual motors, allowing each finger to move independently. The F1 team and Touch Bionics have agreed to share technology that could benefit both organizations.
Touch Bionics just introduced i-LIMB, a significant advance for the product line, with a host of enhancements including pulsing grip strength, multiple software-enabled grip patterns and robust aluminum features for improved user confidence. The i-LIMB Pulse joins a family of products that has been fitted to more than 1,200 patients worldwide.
The version received by the kid has a see-through outer-shell and will get a little Mercedes badge by the wrist. Meanwhile, after touring the Mercedes factory and meeting Michael Schumacher, Matthew now hopes to pursue a career as an engineer with F1.
Here Matthew explains the mechanics of his gifted hand.