By Claire Bates
A prosthetic technology company has unveiled an ultra-realistic range of limbs with features such as freckles, hairs and even tattoos.
Scottish company Touch Bionics have been hand-crafting upper limb prostheses for years but have recently introduced a new photographic system that is designed to make passive prostheses look as real as possible.
Ultra-realistic: Scottish company Touch Bionics have recently introduced a new photographic system that is designed to precisely match a prosthesis to a person's skin tone
Touch Bionics add freckles and hair to help the prosthetic blend in
The products, which come in parts of fingers, whole fingers, hands or arms, are known as passive prostheses - although light joints can be built in so they can be manually bent into different shapes.
Made from high definition silicone, they are part of the 'Living Skin' range and are designed with the help of a patent-pending imaging system called 'Living Image'.
Living Image has been under development for a couple of years and was revealed on Tuesday at Las Vegas at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly.
If a patient needs a single prosthetic such as a hand or finger, experts use the system to scan the skin tone, features and shape of their remaining limb.
The system, which simulates natural light for the best colour match, sends the resulting image via the internet to the production facility in Scotland. The resulting prosthetic is hand-painted to exactly match skin tone and appearance.
Perfect match: A prosthetic arm unveiled at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly in Las Vegas
Livingimage: The device is used to make a passive prosthetic far more realistic
Touch Bionics spokesman Danny Sullivan, told Mail Online: 'We've tested the system on 100 patients and it has been very successful.
'Clients have been very satisfied, especially with the colour of the 'skin.' The aim is to create a prosthetic that is as close a match as possible.'
The scanning process removes the need for time-consuming and error-prone matching practices and results in a highly realistic prosthetic in a shorter amount of time.
'It used to take five weeks to create a finger and seven weeks to create a hand,' Mr Sullivan said.
'But the imaging system has shortened this process by two to three weeks. It's also more reliable and makes far better use of clinical time.'
There are several systems at Touch Bionic centres in the U.S and one in use in the UK at the headquarters in Livingston in Scotland. There are tentative plans to either sell or rent systems to other prosthetic centres.
'We want to bring living skin to as wide a population as possible,' Mr Sullivan said.
The company also unveiled i-limb ultra, an upgraded version of its flagship prosthetic hand solution, which they say is the most versatile prosthetic hand available.
It has multiple functions including pushing, pulling, stabilising, supporting, light grasping and typing. It is the only prosthetic that can gradually increase the strength of its grip on an object.
Mr Sullivan said living image could be used to create coverings for their latest products.
For more information visit www.touchbionics.com